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Residents getting COVID-19 Vaccine at Indian Association Ajman. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: With over 1.2 million already vaccinated against infection for COVID-19 in the UAE, doctors have expressed optimism and hope in achieving herd immunity soon, nevertheless cautioned all residents not to give up the basic protocols followed so far in the pandemic.

Dr Mohammad Rafique

Dr Mohammad Rafique, Pulmonologist and Medical Director at Prime Hospital, told Gulf News, “The gold standard in COVID-19 management to stop community transmission still remains the four protocols. Wear your mask at all times, maintain a social distance of two metres, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, in absence of water, use hand sanitisers to keep chances of infection at bay. The vaccination drive is going on strong and many residents are taking the vaccine. It is expected that by the time about 60 per cent receive vaccination, we will be able to get herd immunity. This will be achieved soon enough in the UAE as the government vaccination programme is on track. However, I would advise the people not to lose sight or be in a hurry to discard any of the above four protocols.”

Be a corona vigilant warrior

Community transmission of the virus still remains a cause of concern and doctors request people not to lower their guard.

Dr Atul Aundhekar, CEO of Avivo Health Care Group, who has been closely following the pandemic, cautioned people against contracting COVID-19 from inanimate objects. “I have heard of cases where people say they never stepped out of their home but still tested positive for COVID-19. This is not very common but the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has pointed out transmission of the virus through inanimate surfaces such as doorknobs, parcels, plastics, handrails where research has shown the virus to remain active between 4-16 hours.”

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A shopping mall in Dubai. It is important to continue maintaining the protocols to break the transmission chain, experts said. Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

This happens when infected people sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces, or objects, such as tables, doorknobs and handrails. People can catch the infection by touching these contaminated surfaces, then touching their eyes, noses or mouths without having cleaned their hands first.

How do inanimate objects become sources of transmission?

Dr Atul Aundhekar

Dr Aundhekar added, “There is no intention to cause panic, but people must be on the alert. Many studies published by US National Institute of Health (NIH) have pointed out that the virus can stay intact on inanimate surfaces such as plastic, metal, wood and cardboard for several hours. The sequence of events happens in the following manner. If you are expecting a parcel, you need to be aware that an individual who was infected with COVID-19 could have handled it at one of the stages. When this infected individual may have sneezed or coughed, it would have dislodged a large blob of saliva on the box. In the delivery chai, n the parcel exchanged through several hands, can transmit the virus if people have not been cautious.”

Stick to COVID-19 protocol to break the chain

Dr Aundhekar continued: “All people need to do in case of such situations is break the chain. If you are expecting a courier, just make sure you discard the outer covering outside home. Take precautions of meeting any individual with a mask and observe the social distance rule. Once the external packing is discarded, sanitise the object you have ordered, wash your hands and discard the external covering. At home sanitise the frequently touched inanimate surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails and even elevator buttons. Avoid touching your face or mouth that can give the virus access to your respiratory tract. These are basic rules that have been around for long, but we need to reiterate so that people do not lower their guard and continue to be vigilant warriors until herd immunity is achieved.”