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Stay away from people sneezing or having runny noses MERS scare raises concern

In the backdrop of the growing anxiety among the people over MERS, in this week’s online poll Arab Times asked voters what they felt were the most important precautions to take to avoid the spread of fatal infectious diseases. A majority of voters felt that we need to stay away from people who sneeze and have runny noses.

Respondents who concurred with this opinion said that as there are no clear cut symptoms for MERS, we have to take every possible symptom seriously. When questioned if it would not create undue anxiety because sneezing and sniffling are symptoms of common cold, respondents replied, “Yes, but it is worth the trouble.

However, we are not asking for quarantining such people. We are only saying that we need to be a little careful while engaging with them closely. Such as reminding them to cover their noses while sneezing and washing your hands with disinfectants soon after dealing with them.”

About 17% of the voters preferred to impose a total ban on social gestures such as shaking hands or kissing. Talking to Arab Times respondents who concurred said social gestures are mere formalities. They are not more important than staying alive. “Until the scare of MERS dies down and health specialists confirm that there is no more reason for fear, then we can resume these niceties.”

Another 17% of the voters stressed the need for greater hygiene. By keeping personal hygiene, such as frequently washing hands, they felt that infections can be kept under check. “Why blame others when you are not careful.” An equal percentage of voters felt that visiting clinics even for small symptoms is the way forward. “Let’s not wait until it gets worse.

Even if we can’t avoid getting infected, timely action will save our lives. Therefore, let’s visit the doctor when we see signs of trouble, however small.” But others felt visiting doctors would be ineffectual, because for mild symptoms like running nose the doctors are only going to prescribe the usual flu medications.

Some of the other responses included avoiding going to crowded places and eating out. “These places are easiest to contract the disease from. Yes, life would be boring without these enjoyments, but it’s better to have a boring life than not having one at all.” Some respondents rationalized these views by saying that areas where you have lesser control over physical contact and air quality, avoid them. “We don’t know who is cooking the food in restaurants or how many hands they change before they reach your table.

Similarly, malls are crowded and you really can’t control who bumps into you or who has touched the objects before you. “ Carrying a hand sanitizer always with you was recommended by 9 % of the voters. About 8% said they don’t really care. “Life is anyways short, so let’s enjoy the moment,” was their take.

By: Valiya S Sajjad Arab Times Staff

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