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Decalogue for a (more) safe Christmas

We have not defeated the virus. The probability of a third wave is very high. It’s not just about having beds available in intensive care units (ICU). Around an ICU bed there are more than a dozen professionals and, sometimes, wars are lost through exhaustion. The health system is exhausted, and in the next few months SARS-CoV-2 may coincide with other respiratory viruses such as influenza and other pathogens that cause pneumonia. Every year infectious respiratory diseases cause millions of deaths. In fact, the death rate is seasonal: more people die in winter than in summer. Until the majority of the population is immunized or vaccinated, we have to continue to be very careful with this virus. Otherwise, the next few weeks can be catastrophic and there may be a real carnage. Perhaps the most advisable thing would be a total bolt. In Italy the measures are much more restrictive. In the United States they are seeing an increase in deaths after Thanksgiving celebrations, the equivalent of our Christmas in terms of family reunions. But we have decided to live with the virus until the vaccines arrive. Imagine that cigarette smoke is the coronavirus This virus is silent and bloody. It is transmitted by air, by aerosols. Aerosol transmission has to be thought of as tobacco smoke. When someone smokes next to you, imagine that the smoke is the coronavirus. You breathe it like you breathe smoker’s smoke. After spending time with him, all his clothes smell of tobacco. Well, the same is the coronavirus. Also, before people show any symptoms of the disease (presymptomatic), they can be contagious. And to make it even more complicated, most infected people will never have symptoms (asymptomatic), they will not know they are infected but they can transmit the virus. The infective dose, the amount of virus particles that are needed to initiate an infection, also appears to be very low. All this explains the tremendous success that this virus has had in spreading with such high speed throughout the planet and that it is so difficult to control. We know what we have to do to minimize contagion (I say minimize because avoiding it completely is almost impossible): prevent it from the virus enters our lungs (mask), avoid entry by touching contaminated objects (hand hygiene), avoid breathing near other people (distance). We know that closed places, with many people, very close together, with poor ventilation pose a much greater risk of contagion. And we know that the more we raise our voice, the more infectious particles we can exhale, so we must avoid yelling or singing. The time factor is also very important: the longer we are exposed, the greater the risk of contagion. Taking all this into account, this Christmas: 1. The best thing would be not to get together and the fewer people the better: five, better than ten. Let’s prioritize: better only with people with whom we live. If we have any symptoms: let’s not go! 2. Let’s receive with hydroalcohol, frequent hand washing. Let’s show all our love, but better without kisses or hugs. 3. Let’s wear a mask as long as we can. In closed places, a FFP2 is better. If we take it off, better not leave it on the table, let’s use a plastic bag or, better, a paper envelope. 4. If possible, let’s sit in alternate places (in a zig-zag) so that no one is in front of us. 5. Better that one person serve the table (but, be careful, it does not have to be your mother, you can offer yourself). Better not to share dishes, nothing “to the center”. 6. Let’s not toast touching the glasses and let’s not mix and confuse the glasses: let’s drink each one of our glass. 7. Let’s try not to raise our voices too much, sing or shout. If we put music that is not very loud, so as not to have to force our voice and avoid aerosols. 8. If possible, let us remember that it is always better on the outside than on the inside. If we can’t, let’s try to ventilate frequently: let the air flow. 9. If anyone smokes, do it outside. 10. Let us take special care of the most vulnerable: the elderly or those with illnesses. Regarding Christmas shopping, the same criteria apply: avoid crowded places, with many people, plan purchases so that they are not at peak times and we do not have We have to spend a lot of time inside the establishment, let’s go to “shot done”, and let’s support the small local business! We are going to try to enjoy and celebrate Christmas, but in the safest way we can, as recommended by a group of colleagues in a guide that should be read slowly and shared, with responsibility and common sense. * * * A version of this article was originally published on the author’s blog, microBIO. * * * This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original. Ignacio López-Goñi does not receive a salary, nor does he carry out consulting work, nor does he own shares, nor does he receive financing from any company or organization that may benefit from this article, and has declared that he lacks relevant links beyond the academic position aforementioned.

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