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Maintaining social distance from elders is important, since there is no cure yet for COVID-19. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: UAE health authorities have issued warnings and practical guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable members of society, including the elderly.

The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) has outlined the necessary precautions residents must take when visiting the elderly to keep them - and others - safe.

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Wear a face mask

Anyone can get infected with the coronavirus but the elderly, because of their weaker immunity, will not be able to fight the virus as effectively. Wearing a face mask will help prevent the spread of infection. When someone coughs, talks or sneezes, they could release germs into the air that may infect anyone nearby. Wearing a face mask is an effective approach to block contamination.

Maintain a two-metre distance; avoid hugs and handshakes

Maintaining social distance from elders is important, since there is no cure yet for COVID-19. It is part of the prevention process to avoid direct contact with them. Health officials advice against cheek and nose greetings, shaking hands, kissing and hugging. Handshakes, in particular, are not recommended as it allows hands to “come into contact with each other and with the environment,” increasing the chance of the spread of the virus.

Avoid gatherings

People not adhering to the recommended measures and mixing with big groups may not only spread the virus but also compromise high-risk people which could lead to their death. Last week, a man who attended a gathering infected 45 people, including his wife and a 90-year old relative, who had underlying health conditions and died due to COVID-19 complications.

For now, authorities strongly caution against large social gatherings and frequent family visits. Family members, however, should also ensure that their elders don’t get lonely. If the elders don’t live with their family, one way of checking on them is through regular phone or video calls and chat on social media.

Provide them with necessary items

A family member can be assigned to shop for an elder’s necessities such as food, groceries and medication. Make sure their food is well-cooked, easy to eat, nutritious and rich in vitamins to boost their immunity. Ensure they also get adequate sleep and check their health condition regularly. Provide them also with all the right information about COVID-19 and the precautions that need to be taken.

Wash your hands with soap and water or sanitise before entering

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Keep your hands away from your face and your elder. Also, regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home, including those used the elderly such as walkers or canes.

Avoid sharing food and supplies

To minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection, it is advisable for the elderly to have their own set of items, including utensils. Another important reminder to ensure the cleanliness and ventilation of the house.

Everyone is responsible

It is good to note that the UAE is among the top countries in the world with high COVID-19 screening per capita. Authorities have conducted more than 7.5 million tests since the beginning of the pandemic. Developing a vaccine is also in advanced stages. But until that is ready, everyone should be responsible and strictly adhere to precautionary measures.