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World Patient Safety Day 2020: Things Patients MUST Do After COVID-19 Recovery

World Patient Safety Day is observed on 17 September every year. Established by the 72nd World Health Assembly in May 2019, the day is seen as 'global action on patient safety.' World Patient Safety Day aims to raise awareness on the importance of global understanding of patient safety. The objectives of the day are, to:

  • increase public engagement in the safety of health care,
  • promote global actions to enhance patient safety,
  • and reduce patient harm.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to ensure patient safety has indeed elevated. World Patient Safety Day 2020 theme is 'Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety.' The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on the world, but more so for health workers due to the challenges and risks such as violence, stigma, infections, psychological and emotional disturbances, illness and even death.

The slogan for World Patient Safety Day 2020 is 'Safe health workers, Safe patients'. The objectives of World Patient Safety Day 2020 are as follows:

  • Raise global awareness on the importance of health worker safety and its connection to patient safety.
  • Engage multiple stakeholders and adopt strategies that can improve the safety of health workers and patients.
  • Implement urgent and sustainable actions by all stakeholders that not only recognises but also invests in the safety of health workers, as a priority for patient safety.
  • Provide due recognition of health workers' dedication and hard work, particularly amid the current fight against COVID-19.

In the event of the World Patient Day 2020, we have gathered a list of things every individual who has recovered from COVID-19 must do.

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Since its advent in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused 939,289 deaths, affecting over 29,734,175 people. All around the globe, scientists and health experts are ardently working towards providing a deeper understanding of the nature of the novel coronavirus, informing the public of its development, mutations, etc., hence creating further awareness on the on-going issue.

COVID-19 can affect anyone, causing symptoms ranging from mild to very severe, where some people may be more likely to have severe illness than others because they have characteristics or medical conditions that increase their risk. People of any age with certain underlying medical conditions such as cancer, COPD, chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, etc. are at increased risk [1].

The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to limit your interactions with other people as much as possible and taking the necessary precautions such as using a mask, social distancing and sanitizing to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.

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Most people recover from the COVID-19 infection, where the statistics show that the rate of recovery is higher than that of the deaths. When a person gets affected by the COVID-19 virus, it results in respiratory illnesses, so the lungs are usually affected first [2]. Early symptoms of the coronavirus infection include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Still, damage can also occur in other parts of the body, especially during serious illness [3][4].

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COVID-19 And The Road To Recovery

Reports and health experts point out that the vast majority of people who catch COVID-19 will make a complete recovery. And this brings forth a sense of uncertainty, with the ‘new normal' and several questions looming in your mind, such as, "How long will I be contagious?" "Should I be worried about these lingering symptoms?" "Does this mean I don't have to wear a mask anymore?" and more.

While on an average, a COVID-19 patient usually recovers in three weeks, studies have pointed out that people may suffer from kidney, lungs, and heart ailments post-recovery [5]. Some of the other possible long-term impacts of COVID-19 include neurological conditions and mental health issues [6].

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those with COVID-19 who are considered recovered when [7];

  • they have no fever for at least 72 hours without medication,
  • improvement in other symptoms, like cough or shortness of breath, and
  • a period of at least seven days has passed since symptoms first appeared.

We have created a list of things or the ways through which you can help yourself in the journey towards COVID-19 recovery.

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1. Take It Easy

Firstly, remember to give yourself some time. Immediately bouncing back to your regular routines and practices as soon as you get home is not practical, and honestly, it does not work that way. Give yourself some time to slowly adjust to your old routine, taking one day at a time.

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2. Remember, You Are Not Immune To The Virus

As studies point out, with some illnesses, you can be immune to reinfection for some period of time after your recovery [8]. However, as reports suggest, this is not the case with COVID-19. Health experts point out that COVID-19 immunity is most likely temporary. Therefore, continue wearing face masks in public places and practise social distancing [9].

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3. Pay Attention To Any Warning Signs/Symptoms

COVID-19 infections come with a long list of symptoms, the most common being fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Pay attention to any warning signs such as a nagging headache or even a bout of breathlessness, as these could be an indication that our body has not recovered completely [10].

Note: Inform your doctor immediately if any such symptoms appear, post-recovery.

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4. Try Memory Exercises

Trying out puzzles and other memory exercises can help you freshen up your memory gradually. Spend 1 to 2 hours daily for puzzles, memory games and activities to boost your brain. There is no need to rush and take it slow [11].

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5. Save Your Energy

Recovery from any disease is not an easy one, and one that is severe, like COVID-19 will not be quick. Health experts advise that you should preserve your energy as much as possible and postpone tasks that require physical labour [12].

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6. Revise Your Medications

If you have any chronic underlying health conditions and have been taking medications, health experts assert that it is essential to monitor your symptoms closely such as checking blood pressure, sugar levels etc.

Note: Consult your healthcare provider if the dosage needs revision.

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7. Exercise Regularly

Doctors say that individuals on the road to recovery should do mild exercises such as walking and positioning. Even if you are at home, walking can improve overall conditioning. Also, position your back while sitting, that is, spending long hours on your back can lead to deconditioning and other medical problems [13]. So, it is recommended to sit upright as much as possible throughout the day [14]. You can schedule your walks weekly,

Week 1: 5 minutes, five times per day

Week 2: 10 minutes, three times per day

Week 3: 15 minutes, two times per day

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8. Take Care Of Your Mental Health

The coronavirus infection affects not only your body but also your mental health [15]. Reports indicate that those who recover from COVID-19 may be struggling mentally and even develop signs and symptoms of an acute stress reaction, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [16].

Mental health experts suggest that in minor cases of mental health issues, one can improve their mood with a variety of mood-boosting behaviours such as;

  • Communicating with your family and loved ones regularly (phones, video calls, or social media)
  • Practising meditation
  • Eating a healthy diet, engaging in exercise and getting good sleep
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid blue light exposure (phones/laptops) for at least 1 hour before bedtime

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Note: In severe cases, people may require additional support and professional help.

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On A Final Note…

Do keep in mind that your body may not be operating at 100 per cent. It can take six weeks or longer for someone to fully recover if they were in critical condition. To facilitate active recovery from COVID-19, individuals can work on strengthening their breathing muscles and the muscles in their arms and legs. Reach out to a professional or family members for help - there is no shame in seeking help whenever you need it, be it a run to the grocery store or to cook food.

Read more about: covid 19 coronavirus post covid