After the arrival of COVID-19, the mask became a barrier that helps prevent the contagion and spread of respiratory diseases. However, due to the relaxation of preventive biosecurity measures, its use has declined, increasing the risk of infection.
For this reason, Glenda Escalante, biologist, chemist and head of the Clinical Laboratories, Blood Banks and Pathology Section of the IGSS Medical Technical Services Division, explained that the coronavirus has made other viruses, previously undetected, notorious. “This has shown the importance of respiratory infections caused by different pathogens,” he said.
For example, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes a delicate picture in children, much like the flu does in adults. Likewise, the specialist explained that both groups are being screened to rule out rhinoviruses, which have traditionally not been screened for and are now included in the COVID-19 respiratory protocol.
The expert, who was also among the frontline personnel fighting COVID at the General Hospital for Diseases as the head of the clinical laboratory, pointed out that since the pandemic, these diseases affect the body in different ways. “The emergence of variants has enabled the immune system to protect itself against this and other respiratory infections.” That’s the positive aspect,” he said.
However, this change also has a downside. Escalante added that the isolation of children, the elderly and patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease has left them vulnerable to multiple respiratory diseases when exposed to the outside world.
In this sense, Dr. Óscar Donis, Head of the Department of Epidemiology of the Department of Preventive Medicine of the Health Benefits Sub-Management, the need to maintain the established health measures. “I think we should stick to using the mask all the time, especially when we have a cold,” he advised.
He also warned to avoid crowds at all costs, as it’s not possible to say exactly how many people might be infected with different microbes, especially if they have respiratory symptoms.
Finally, Escalante urged the insured to remain vigilant. “We must continue with hand washing, social distancing and other precautionary measures, among other measures. The recommendations aim to prevent respiratory diseases in general,” he said.