Saturday, 6 March, 2021

Elders' Virus Vulnerability

Medical scientists are still struggling to fully grasp the origin and nature of the novel coronavirus that first spread in Wuhan of China and then travelled fast to Europe, the US, South America, Africa and Asia. The COVID-19 pandemic is mysterious for the researchers have not yet found medicines to cure its patients despite conducting multitudes of real-time analyses of viral genome at the world’s advanced labs. Understanding the authentic sequence data and viral pathogens is the key to tracing the causes behind its spread and mutation. Though the enigma of virus has left virologists scratching their heads, they have offered many valuable ideas, information and prescriptions to prevent and control the disease which have turned people’s normal life topsy-turvy. The new findings and experiences, shared by both the doctors and recovered coronavirus patients, undoubtedly serve as life-saving tips to deal with the ongoing medical emergency and resulting social, economic and psychological trauma facing the people across the globe.

Based on the rising number of infections and death toll from it, it has become evident that the older people and those with chronic diseases such as asthma and lung disease, cardiovascular ailment, cancer and diabetes are quite vulnerable to the coronavirus. The people above 60 have not only weak immune system but are also susceptible to infections of all types. When the older people catch an infection, their immune system overacts and produces many inflammatory chemicals against it but such a reaction has potential to cause the failure of their critical organs. Chronic diabetic patients can face a double whammy for two reasons. First, their elevated glucose (blood sugar) may provide ideal ground for viruses to thrive.  Second, the virus like COVID-19 suppresses the immune function of their body. As a result, they find it harder to keep the virus at bay.

In Nepal, too, a significant number of elderly people with underlying medical conditions have contracted the virus and eventually succumbed to it, according to the news report of this daily.  As of Monday, over 1,653 people aged above 60 have been infected with the virus. Of them, 96 died of infection. Until now, 49 people belonging to 61-70 age group, 32 aged between 71 and 80 years and 15 above 80 years died due to the coronavirus infection. These data corroborate the fact that the senior citizens residing either at their private homes or the care centres are at a greater risk of contracting the deadly virus. If one member of the old-age home gets infected with the virus, it will take no time for it to spread to all members of that building because they always live, eat and play in close contact with each other. To our satisfaction, no cases of infection have been detected in any elderly homes of the country to date.

However, this does not mean that concerned authorities sit idly by and take no measures to insulate those physically weaker people from the virus. Now PCR tests should be expanded to such elderly homes, while their owners should strictly apply all precautions against the pandemic. Unnecessary visits of people to the senior citizens homes should be discouraged. At the same time, the active members of a family must follow all safety protocols when they come into contact with their elderly. Otherwise, they can be the virus carriers at their own home. 

How do you feel after reading this news?