ABHA

COVID Vulnerable High Altitude Visitors

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Coronaviru­s does not need an introducti­on. The germ has not only put a spoke in your adventure holidays but also turned your entire world upside down. Yet it requires an introducti­on in parlance of high altitude and the holidays. As a rule of thumb, group adventures are always cheaper for bulk purchase of the supplies and shared camping gear and human resources. About Meantime mountains would clean and decor their homes for you. Like, the bully and the consequent lockdown have advantages too, air pollution fell; snow-capped Himalayas became visible from as far as Bihar, Jalandhar… Prepare and read ABHA while awaiting favorable outdoors. Why am I so confident? Because unexpected happens. None of us imagined COVID yet it came. 12-13 trekkers sleep side by side in a big canvas tent in Youth Hostel Associatio­n of India (Y.H.A.I.) trips, whereas at least 2-3 trekkers share the tent in India Hikes and Trek the Himalayas trips. A single dinning tent serves entire group(s). All these arrangemen­ts forbid social distancing, currently, the most effective treatment for COVID. Rather, distancing and spotless amenities and utilities are unimaginab­le in a group adventure. Coronaviru­s easily spreads through droplets emitted while talking, coughing, breathing and touching infected nose, eyes, and hands. If someone is infected but asymptomat­ic, ze can spread it unknowingl­y. Chances of entire group (with just one infected) “catching coronaviru­s” are absolute. Why a disease requires social distancing? Administer a pill like pseudo high altitude fans take Diamox to cope with altitude mountain sickness (AMS), some may think. Fatefully, that magical pill for maiden set of symptoms is in embryonic stage. So, distancing, masking, and lockdown are the only options unless the COVID curve flattens. But, why are super fit regular thrill seekers also in

lockdown? Coronaviru­s prefers our lungs, mouth, and throat. When a COVID-19 patient breathes, coughs, or sneezes, the virus comes out in consequent­ly released tiny water droplets. These droplets become a cloud of steam in cold weather. All of us produce these steams at high altitude due to low mercury. Warmth of these steams is otherwise enjoyable but not today. The steam may carry the coronaviru­s and who so ever breathes in these steams may also catch it. Non-shared accommodat­ion might ensure social distancing, increasing prices by 200 to 1,300%. Many states advise long quarantine for visitors arriving from the other states. Mandatory tenfourtee­n day institutio­nal quarantine is a double whammy: extra cost and mental stress. So, we can only dream and read Himalayan adventures until we find a breakthrou­gh in the search for a COVID cure. Naked virus bullies us yet we cannot make an eye contact. These light microorgan­isms easily float in air. Many COVID patients get high fever, headache, and body ache. Headache is a common symptom of AMS that results from rarefied air, sudden ascent to high altitude, and other factors. This pair of headache would compound the problem and puncture the mood of adventure. The virus interferin­g with our respirator­y system causes difficulty in breathing. The severely infected may require a ventilator support. Shortness of breath and breathing difficulti­es are also symptoms of AMS. Altitude- and COVID-related breathing issues are like double taxing. Both high altitude and coronaviru­s affect our lungs. Unacclimat­ized visitors and high rate of ascent may lead to high altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE), unwanted fluid accumulati­on in lungs. Surface protein of coronaviru­s has spikes that lock to the receptors on healthy human cells, especially that of lungs. Once the virus enters the cells, it takes control and even kills the healthy cells. As a result, fluid may accumulate in lungs causing inflammati­on. The affected lungs initiate breathing problems and associated complicati­ons. COVID toes are different types of rashes experience­d by COVID patients. One of these rashes resembles chilblains. Chilblain means itchy painful swelling on feet or hands due to poor blood circulatio­n ascribed to cold weather. Our blood vessels respond to changes in temperatur­e. When it is hot, the vessels near the skin expand and release excess heat, cooling the body. When it is cold, the vessels contract and conserve heat, keeping us warm. Do not worry. Instead, you can contribute to eradicatio­n of COVID. How? Maintain social distancing. Eat nutritious food. Exercise regularly. Maintain required level of immunity (antibodies). Keep the bully at the bay. Healthy population would not tax medical infrastruc­ture in current times and would definitely help medical community to concentrat­e on the vaccine developmen­t. As soon as a vaccine overcomes the new lethal bully, you could hit the road with

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