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Combating COVID-19: Centre issues advisory to elderly people

ANI | Updated: Apr 17, 2020 23:31 IST

New Delhi [India], April 17 (ANI): The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) along with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Geriatric Department of All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has issued an advisory for senior citizens keeping in mind their vulnerability to COVID-19.
The advisory has been issued particularly for the elderly with chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, interstitial lung disease, kidney disease, liver disease, neurological condition, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.
It also sets separate guidelines in the form of dos and don'ts depending on the physical ability of the person.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Prasoon Chatterjee, Associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine, AIIMS, said: "Globally, elderly people are the worst sufferers of COVID-19 primarily because they have fading immune system, low biological reserve and they have multi-morbidity."
"We have come up with separate guidelines for elderly only because SARCOV2 virus -- coronavirus -- is more of asymptomatic flu but is extremely contagious and has the capacity to infect one to two/three persons and the chain continues. Mostly, old people are under multiple drugs, which furthers the risk of deconditioning if infected with COVID-19," he added.

Based on the Census of 2011, there are approximately 16 crore senior citizens aged above 60 years in the country. Data say that age group 60-69 years are 8.8 crore in population, age group 70-79 yrs are 6.4 crore, elders above 80 years are 2.8 crore while indigent elders are 0.18 crore.
Among several dos and don'ts, staying at home, maintaining social distancing, and no handshake or not going to the crowded places top the list.
The elderly are more prone to depression and anxiety due to social isolation. To regulate these among the elderly, the 'do' list recommends talking between family members, neighbours, relatives, friends via call or video conferencing and also to take help from family members if needed.
It also suggests monitoring one's own health and contact the nearest health care facility if any irregularities are observed.
Dr Chatterjee said: "The virus enters through lungs and through blood it can reach any organ resulting in organ failure. Hence, elderly people should be more careful. To restrict the virus from transmission, social distancing plays a very crucial role. It has to be followed." (ANI)