Using tobacco and drinking alcohol to cope with boredom during the COVID-19 lockdown can affect immunity as well as mental health, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday, amid rising cases of the novel coronavirus.
It also urged people not to shun or judge those who are suffering from the infection, which has claimed 32 lives and affected 1,251 people in the country.
“If you know someone who might have the infection, tell them about precautions, and how to get medical assistance, if required,” the Ministry said in its document ‘Minding our minds during the COVID-19 pandemic’, which was released on Tuesday.
People who have the problem of substance use must go for professional help, especially when they feel stressed, the Ministry said.
Underlining the importance of the lockdown, it said the lockdown is meant to prevent the spread of the infection from one person to another and to protect ourselves and others.
This means, not stepping out of the house except for buying necessities, reducing the number of trips outside, and ideally only a single, healthy family member making trips when absolutely necessary, the Ministry said.
If there is anyone in the house who is very sick and may need to get medical help, “you must be aware of the health facility nearest to you”, it said.
“These can be difficult times for all of us as we hear about the spread of COVID-19 from all over the world, through television, social media, newspapers, family and friends and other sources. The most common emotion faced by all is fear. It makes us anxious, panicky and can even possibly make us think, say or do things that we might not consider appropriate under normal circumstances,” the document stated.
It urged people not to panic if they get infected with the novel coronavirus, stating most people get better and advised practicing self-isolation and taking medications that are advised.
Giving tips on handling social isolation, the Ministry said staying at home can be quite nice for some time, but can also be boring and restricting and advised people to stay busy and distract themselves from negative emotions by listening to music, reading, watching an entertaining programme on television, pursuing hobbies and doing simple indoor exercises.
“Understand if someone around you needs advice, food or other essentials, be willing to share. Elderly people may feel confused, lost and need help. Offer them help by getting them what they need, their medicines, daily needs etc,” the Ministry said.
It urged people to focus on facts and reject rumours.
The Ministry asked people to access and believe only the most reliable sources of information for self-protection.
It also advised them against spreading or sharing any unverified news or information further.
“Knowledge is power; the more you know about a certain issue, the less fearful you may feel. Do not follow sensational news or social media posts which may impact your mental state.”
“Do not keep discussing all the time about who got sick and how. Instead, learn about who got well and recovered. Stick to the known advice- hand hygiene and keeping a physical distance from others. It is being careful about yourself, and also about care of others,” it said adding common cold is not coronavirus infection.
The Ministry called for following the etiquette of sneezing, coughing, avoiding spitting in public places among others.