Health experts say the human immune system consists of a complex collection of cells, processes and chemicals that enable the body fight against invading pathogens including viruses.
Coronavirus, whose first case was reported in China last year, requires higher immunity for any infected person to survive. Uganda has currently confirmed 14 cases, according to Ministry of Health.
Dr Florence Mwana, a public health nutritionist, says people should drink a lot of fluids to stay hydrated and healthy.
“Specifically for Covid-19, we must drink spiced tea (some restaurants have it as dawa tea). A lot of us drink tea, our local Majani, it also has chemicals that can fight the flu-like symptoms that come with Covid-19. Just add the spices on it,” she said.
Dr Richard Idro, the president of Uganda Medical Association, said your skin is the first defence against the outside before the blood defends you against any germs from entering your body.
He says when a virus like Covid-19 attacks your immune system, if the antibodies are weak and cannot mobilise, the body’s white blood cells are destroyed and the virus thrives as seen in signs and symptoms like flu, cough or high fever, among others.
“It takes a bit of time for the body to mobilise its defences if it is a new germ or disease that has just entered your body. If the disease attacked you when you were unwell from other conditions, you are more likely not to respond with adequate strength.
The other additional illnesses are likely to impair you. The other thing is age. Young children or the old like what you are seeing in Italy. Covid-19 is mainly affecting elderly people.”
Dr Idro said Uganda’s population will be the worst hit if the virus spreads because more than 4.8 million people who have other illnesses. For instance 1.4 million are HIV-positive people, 100,000 are Tuberculosis patients, among other chronic illnesses. Uganda has a population of about 40 million people.
“If your immune system is good, the antibodies can actually control the symptoms or it never shows.
...In another group, if they overwhelm your system and you develop cough, very high fever, severe difficulty in breathing and you may even die. ”
Dr Idro, however, said one can boost their immune system by remaining active even when they are at home during this partial shutdown.
President Museveni in his second address to the nation early this week asked people to stay home and closed borders to the country in a bid to avoid congestion in work places, the streets, public transport, and markets. Covid-19 spreads faster from an infected person to a healthy one through close social contacts.
When droplets from an infected person gets to any surface and a healthy person touches it with their hand or body and gets to any opening like the mouth, nose or eyes, the person can get infected too.
The World Health Organisation early this week confirmed that Covis-19 is an air-borne disease.
However, Dr Idro says if people change their lifestyles and maintain a well-balanced diet, their immune system can fight the virus.
“At a personal level, we have some greens, fruits, to give you vitamins, proteins either beans, peas, with meat, fish, and eggs and have some carbohydrates."
“Vitamin C is very important. We usually get it in fresh fruits such as oranges, lemons, bananas and passion fruits which we have. The fresh ones because it is Vitamin which can easily be destroyed by heat. Even the vegetables like the dodo, when you cook for a long time they get spoilt. Ideally you should just steam,” he said.
Dr Idro advises against manufactured juices, adding that it is better to squeeze the fresh fruit juice.
“You should have adequate rest. If you do not sleep enough, and you are constantly tired, your immunity will be lowered. If we are eating appropriately, exercising, just not sitting down, at least 30 minutes exercise, three times a week, even around your house, cleaning the house, cooking, do something at least,” he said.
The World Health Organisation indicates that more than 1,300 people have been infected with coronavirus in Africa with 26 recorded deaths.