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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Air pollution and COVID-19: Risk of infection, precautions to take

Can air pollution increase the spread of COVID-19? Here's what a doctor has to say

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 22, 2020 6:12:45 pm
Delhi pollution, Delhi AQI today, delhi air quality today, Delhi-NCR pollution levels, Delhi government, Stubble burning, SAFAR, IMD, Delhi news, Indian expressThe President has given his assent to The Commission for Air Quality management in NCR and adjoining areas, 2020.

The adverse impact of air pollution on one’s health is not unknown. From respiratory problems, eye irritation to cardiovascular diseases, air pollution can cause a lot of serious health issues.

With the increasing air pollution levels in Delhi NCR amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, experts are all the more concerned about how high pollution levels can aggravate the situation, suggesting an increase in the spread of the virus.

How are air pollution and COVID-19 related?

Dr Richa Sareen, Consultant, pulmonogy and critical care medicine, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, told indianexpress.com, “We will get to see in the coming days but it has definitely been predicted that with the increase in air pollution and upcoming winter, there is a chance that the coronavirus is going to spread further. With air pollution, especially smog, particles remain suspended in the air for a longer duration. So the aerosol, which is the major source of COVID-19 infection, will also be in the air for a long time and can spread the virus more.”

“Secondly, air pollution in itself is harmful for the lungs and the respiratory tract and can lead to its inflammation. This can predispose you to other infections including COVID-19,” she added.

Precautions

With the festivals coming up (after which air pollution levels generally increase) one needs to be very cautious, warned Dr Sareen. To keep illness at bay, she suggested taking the following precautionary measures:

* People need to refrain from visiting crowded markets and other places.
* They need to wear a mask whenever they step out along with adhering to other precautions like maintaining social distancing and using sanitisers.
* Use air purifiers at home because indoor air pollution can also hamper your health.
* People who suffer from chronic respiratory issues like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should avoid going out, specifically during early morning hours and late evenings when the air pollutions levels are relatively higher.
* Avoid exercising outside, specifically during early morning and late evening hours.
* People should avoid burning firecrackers or it will only add to the pollution levels.
* Around this time of the year, it is best to get vaccinated against influenza and pneumonia. Although we do not have the coronavirus vaccine yet, these vaccines would protect you from being co-infected with any other illness.

Read | Delhi smog: Expert tips on how to save yourself from air pollution

Diet

To combat air pollution and illnesses induced by it, you also need to follow a healthy diet. Dr Sareen suggested the following:

* As far as possible, have homecooked food that is high in protein.
* Avoid skipping meals and keep your hydration levels high.
* Continue with your vitamin C, D, and zinc supplements to keep up your immunity.

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