Shohoz launches video consultation service “Shohoz Health”

Shohoz has recently launched ‘Shohoz Health,’ a comprehensive digital health solution with 100+ specialised doctors in the country. This initiative comes as a bid to fight the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and build a technology empowered solution for our healthcare sector. Launched on 16 May, 2020, this state-of-the-art digital healthcare app will allow users to access specialised doctors from renowned hospitals of the country such as Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Bangladesh Medical College & Hospital etc. through video-based consultation from anywhere in Bangladesh. Besides, it will also allow users to receive prescription as well as medicine delivery from over 100 pharmacies — all under the Shohoz Super App.

Prominent child specialist Dr Kazi Naushad-Un-Nabi and many other popular physicians will also be providing consultation on Shohoz Health. 

Users can so avail the prescribed medicines from popular pharmacies like Lazz Pharma, Tamanna Pharmacy, Prescription Point, Al Madina Pharmacy and many other different pharmacies.

For more information, visit www.shohoz.com or www.facebook.com/shohoz

The world of Islam

This is, or should be, the happiest season of the year — the time when we celebrate the holy month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid, except that we must keep in mind and pray for the casualties of the pandemic, and hardships of the poor, and the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

Life must go on, however, and we all, in our separate ways, thank Allah every day for the abundance He has bestowed upon us. While life is a blessing for those who have loving families and sincere friends, we should also turn our thoughts to those who are less fortunate than us, and give more in charity of every sort.

Charity does not consist of donating just money and goods. True charity is a matter of the heart. It comes from feeling a sense of brotherhood, kindness, and a spirit of forgiveness for all. There are 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide, a billion residing in just six countries, while the remaining numbers are spread out all over the world.

Millions of the faithful go on pilgrimage to Makkah every year. I never cease to be impressed by the sight of the thousands of devotees who gather in prayer every day in mosques all over the world. It is a testimony to the power of our faith and our beliefs and our traditions.

And yet, in spite of the virtues that Islam encourages us to practice, and the spirit of universal brotherhood that our Holy Prophet (PBUH) exhorted upon us, our Muslim world is riven by sectarianism, factionalism, tribalism, and arrogance against our co-religionists. Violence, bigotry, and prejudice against people we consider different make a mockery of the very spirit of charity that is one of the most outstanding tenets of our religion.

A  Muslim world of a billion and more people, if united in a spirit of brotherhood and common cause, peace and charity, could be one of the greatest and most powerful forces in the world.

Disunity makes us weak. Greed and selfish short-sighted and ill-thought out political policies leave us all vulnerable to exploitation by others. In spite of our numbers and our illustrious history, Muslims are a persecuted minority in many countries.

If we look back in time, and consider the Muslim Sultanates of Bengal, the Ottomans, the Mughals, the Arab caliphs, and the Moorish kingdoms — it is evident we were strong. There was education, rule of law, peace and prosperity. People of all faiths were allowed to practice their religions and their trades, and live in peace without religious persecution.

Today, we Muslims are different, as is evidenced by the wars and strife that we read of every day in the news. We have lost touch with our sense of brotherhood, and are destroying each other for the profit of those who have the ability to exploit disunity.

This holy month has reminded me of what the Muslim world used to be. We need to return to the fundamental enlightened tenets of our religion, remember and retrieve the virtues that made us great, and regain our identity as real Muslims.

The next time we turn to Allah to pray, we should ask for the blessings of virtue, kindness, compassion, and, most importantly, love and unity for all. We have been endowed with free will and intelligence that we may dream and work toward something greater than ourselves, to create a better world for all, and to leave behind us legacies that are significant and meaningful.

The question we must all ask ourselves is whether we have succeeded, or are even trying to do so.

Photo: LS Archive/ Sazzad Ibne Sayed

The pay cut chain reaction

Normality as we knew it might never come back, and it would only be wise to accept this new normal and act accordingly. With many of the corporate houses and industrial operations going for pay cuts, job cuts, and no-bonus practices, the reality at ground zero for us who manage the day to day household budget will be very tough. In fact, the month of May has been difficult for many of us already.

Pay cuts means adjustments for the service helps also. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to make our service help understand our pay cuts situation and accept the fact that if we do not get our bonuses it indirectly affects them.

The poor souls have families and children to manage, just like us. Our family and household management has a chain effect that directly impacts the service helps, and even the vendors who provide us with regular groceries. Therefore, if I do not spend, then all these working people cannot earn their living. It is indeed a sad time.

I have never been approached by random rickshaw-pullers asking for financial help other than their usual fare. My fishmonger is proud of his trade and that it helps him to earn enough for a comfortable living; however, even he has resorted to asking me for small loans. I know this day-labourer who cleans my roof once a month who came to me recently, crying for aid to buy a roadside stall so that she can sell tea, as she does not have her everyday jobs anymore. I am being accosted by beggars who ask for basic necessities like rice and lentils because my Tk 10 or 20 alms is not helping them.

I am really suffering from guilt; I do not have the heart to turn anyone away, but at the same time, I do not have much to start the month of June or July with, seeing as they will be as sketchy as May.

We can sit and explain to the service people the financial situation we are all in and ask them to buy one Eid dress instead of two, and let go of accessories altogether. We can cut back on our elaborate feast and wear our best dress instead of a new one; we can explain it to the children to save their Eid budget for emergencies.

My heart is heavy with these thoughts, and goes out to the people we support, and who support us in return. Eid Mubarak. 

Photo: Collected

Adventures in the eye shadow palette

I know I am not the only one feeling hopeless at the moment. However, I do believe that I have also found a nice way to divert my attention and boost my mind through all this.

This is perhaps the best time to try out those looks that we were meaning to, but could not because we just did not have enough time on our hands. This is the best time to try out new makeup palettes.

Allow me to start by asking you a question, “Were you always a fan of nudes?”  Maybe it’s time you tried out those electric neons, or even that bedazzled makeup trend that your favourite celebrity put on for a reality TV show! Think about it, there is no one to mock you except your mirror and your pet dog lingering by your side, and even she is too fond of you to be able to tease!

Jokes aside, Eid-ul-Fitr 2020 is definitely going to be different, and lonelier. But it certainly does not mean that it has to be boring as well. To somehow spice up the day amidst all the dreary, we can try out some awesome makeup trends. Let’s stick to the eyes for now.

Smoky eyes were ‘in’ but they got ‘out’ a long time ago. People who think that smokies are still an ‘in’ thing need a good lecture on trends and how fleeting they can be.

Having said that, some plain kohl on the upper lids has become a time-tested classic, and would never ever go out of style. So, when everything else fails, this is can be your ultimate resort.

Other than that, neon liners are a great try and look best when paired with clothes of the same colour, but in slightly muter tones. An example can be neon blue eye shadow going well with a powder blue kurti.

Then there are the mesmerising glossy eyelids that can be achieved with a dollop of Vaseline added to your regular eye shadow palette. If you are not the ‘adventurous’ type, using a store-bought glossy palette could do the job just fine.

Want to be a little more daring? Who says that liners are meant only for the eyelids, and not for the creases? This is a very futuristic look and suits a persona that can carry it properly.

The same can be said for the watercolour eye shadow trend, which uses at least three colours on the eyelid, but truthfully, there is no limit to the number of colours that can be used.

Starting to see the fun in all this? Your face can be your canvas. And this lockdown can actually help you find out the best eye shadow trend that suits your personality.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Model: Niki

Makeup: Farzana Shakil’s Makeover Salon

Styling: Sonia Yeasmin Isha 

Grocery shopping on the internet

A situation where going outside means taking a risk and requires a lot of protective measures is no more just imagination, and regular activities like picking up the groceries have become difficult. And that is the exact problem that online grocery stores are solving for us. Practically all essential grocery items are delivered to one’s doorstep in a matter of hours. These are some of the names you can browse to find one that suits your needs the best. 

Chaldal and Khaas Food

Chaldal.com is one of the first online grocers in Bangladesh. The online market offers a diverse range of items, including fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, beverages, cooking assistance and home appliances, cleaning products, office items, and so on. The market also keeps pet care items, baby care, and other healthcare necessities to make self-care easier during this lockdown.

Similarly, Khaas Food offers buyers healthy and fresh edible produce, starting from a variety of oils, honey, pure ghee to dry fruits and fish, juice, organic tea, and other daily staples.

Both online grocers make getting groceries delivered much easier with payment options of bkash, credit/debit cards, and cash on delivery.

Aladeiin.com

The newer player on the block is Aladeiin.com, who have broadened their scope and added everyday grocery items in their products basket since the pandemic situation caused a general lockdown. Starting off with initially offering only branded electronics for delivery, the online marketplace has expanded, realising the need of the hour. Taking into consideration the current situation of the country, the CEO of Aladeiin.com, Shafkat Hossain encourages his customers to stay home, promising the “best product in the fastest possible time.”

The online market is slowly scaling up, keeping in mind not to compromise the quality of the product. As of now, dry items, rice, potatoes, lentils, cooking oils and spices, baked goods and other staples are available. The market is holding off on the poultry produce for now, but makes up for it with its diverse range of self-care and personal care items.

Starting from trimmers and hair dryers to daily gadgets like Bluetooth speakers, gaming equipment to smartwatches, Aladeiin.com has everything to keep quarantined life as comfortable as possible. Moreover, the electronics come with warranty and installation services.

With their own team operating under all precautionary and safety guidelines, deliveries are made within hours, offering a discount coupon for customers shopping over Tk 2,500 with both digital and physical options for payment.

Shwapno.com and Meena Click

Being well-known for their physical outlets, the super-shop chains, Shwapno and Meena Bazar both provide a range of daily staples including meat and vegetables, dairy and bakery products, frozen foods and other necessities. It only becomes more convenient when these stores offer the same desirable service online in various parts of the country.

Shwapno has also launched “pandamart,” an on-demand grocery and medicine delivery service, with foodpanda to give customers access to a range of daily essentials and medicines, household necessities, frozen and fresh food being delivered straight to their doorstep. Similarly, Pathao has relaunched its instant grocery delivery service, ‘Tong,’ partnering with Shwapno. In a matter of minutes, users of these apps can have groceries and snacks ordered easily.

Daraz Grocer Shop and Othoba.com

Daraz has facilitated an online grocery shopping line, Daraz Grocer Shop, keeping up with public demand, providing canned, dry and packaged food, beverages, breakfast items etc.

Both Daraz and othoba.com allow buyers to filter their groceries according to brand and their price range. This not only makes it easier for buyers to find their desired product, but also makes shopping on a budget easier.

DeliveryHobe

The e-commerce website and food delivery service promises to delivering goods within an hour. Starting from groceries, baby products and pet products to electronics, DeliveryHobe has options for anyone looking for supplies in a hurry.

Their lockdown essentials category includes items to make this lockdown period more fruitful. Consoles, playing cards, Pokémon trading cards and other indoor games are easily available on their website.

As the world evolves, so does shopping. With a pandemic at play, grocery stores have adapted to making life a little easier for the rest of us. Any of these e-grocery platforms are sure to keep our houses well-stocked, productive, and running without a glitch.

Photo: LS Archive/ Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Prepping for Eid: the final stretch

Eid this year may feel joyless for those who are used to the hustle and bustle of shopping and prepping for the big day. The spirit of Eid does not lie in how much one can buy, but rather in being appreciative of what one has. With just a handful of days left before the grand day, it’s time to plan with purpose and intent to make the best of this celebration within limited means. 

PRODUCTIVITY

One final sweep and scrub

Your home on Eid Day this year may not have the typical footfall, but that does not mean leaving things as they are. Beside the daily and weekly clean ups, don’t forget to get out a new set of curtains, table linen, or living room essentials.

Meal prep

Instead of keeping all meal prep for Eid morning, start early and store them in your refrigerator. When preparing, be sure to do it for the days to follow as well. If you want to try out a new recipe, an early trial is also a good idea. Other than salads and dishes that require fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and carbohydrate rich dishes can all be prepared beforehand.

Digital organising

For the last month, the smartphones, tablets and computers around the home have become the central hub of work and leisure. Take some time to sort out the digital clutter in them. Without fail, there are bound to be blurry photos, useless screenshots that you have no recollection of why you took them, to apps that you installed on a whim — delete these if you are looking for a simple decluttering solution. For an added step up, let the antivirus software run a check. An hour or two spent on your gadgets can save you tonnes of hardship in the coming days.

FOR THE CHILDREN

To keep up the Eid spirit, encourage children to decorate their rooms to their best capacity. Rather than distracting them, opt to involve the youngsters in whatever activity that you are doing around the house. To keep boredom at bay, when Eid day comes, bring out the best clothes, enjoy a meal with a hearty cheer, do everything that is possible to do. Honestly, this has not been an enjoyable Ramadan in any way for most children. However, that does not mean that there is no positive takeaway from this situation. One key lesson from all of this should be that the home belongs to everyone, and so, the responsibilities and chores fall on everyone as well. 

CHANGE FOR THE BETTER

A lot of us dive in this holy month with good intentions and rid ourselves of bad habits. We lessen or quit smoking, we are more careful with our language, we wake up for Fajr, reduce our caffeine intake, and so much more. It should be noted that if we can keep it up for a month, we can surely do it for longer periods of time.

You might stray off sometimes, but try your best to stick to these good habits that you build up through this month because that is where the essence of Ramadan lies.

THE FINAL CHECKPOINT

Despite our best efforts to keep up with the daily work and Ramadan rituals, lethargy, disinterest and overall laziness have invaded our lives in more ways than we can imagine. With Eid day fast approaching, the routine is set to change again. Yet, with the ongoing situation, taking every week as it comes has become the normfor most. This continuous state of being stuck in a loop can wreak havoc on the mind without any external signs. If you feel overwhelmed, speak to family and friends. Also, if you happen to know someone who is dealing with things on their own, make an extra effort to reach out to them.

And finally, adhere to rules and regulations set for the day. With Covid-19 still a legitimate health threat, every precautionary measure is set to not only protect an individual, but the families and communities as well.

By Anisha Hassan and Iris Farina

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Eid Snacks

 With Eid fast approaching, you know you are in for a treat, as all the main dishes for lunch and dinner will be on form. But what about those moments in-between, when you do feel peckish, but can’t really handle the heavy main dishes? Well, that’s where these recipes come in. To make life easier for yourself, finish the necessary prep-work beforehand, and just put them together on the big day.

OMELETTE KEEMA ROLL

Ingredients

For the mince mixture—

500g chicken mince

1 tsp red chilli flakes

1 tsp salt

2-3 tbsp oil

For the egg mixture—

3 eggs

½ tsp garam masala powder

½ tsp red chilli powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

½ tsp coriander powder

2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

2-3 green chillies

3 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tbsp tomato sauce

5-6 tomato slices

6-8 onion rings

3-4 homemade whole wheat paratha

Method

Heat oil in a pan, add chicken mince, salt, red chilli flakes and cook until the mince dries. Allow it to cool down completely. Now in a bowl, mix eggs, cooked minced meat, garam masala, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, coriander powder, green coriander leaves, and green chillies.

Mix well. In a pan, pour the egg mixture on a low flame and let cook a bit. Top it with paratha, flip, and cook it. When it is done, take out from pan. Top it with tomatoes, onion, coriander, drizzle sauce, and roll it. Repeat for the rest of the rolls. Your keema rolls are ready to serve.

BEANS ON TOAST

Just one glimpse of this sandwich is enough to make you drool! That is the best part about open sandwiches, which show their mouth-watering toppings and lure the diners.

Beans on toast is a sumptuous open toast, which features canned baked beans, capsicum, and cheese. Herby and spicy seasoning boost the flavour of this sandwich, while spring onions give it an exotic flavour and exciting crunch.

Ingredients

1 cup canned baked beans

6 bread slices, toasted and lightly buttered

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup spring onions, white, finely chopped

2 tbsp spring onion, green, finely chopped

¼ cup capsicum, finely chopped

2 tsp dry red chilli flakes

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

6 tbsp grated processed cheese

Salt to taste

Method

Heat the butter in a broad non-stick pan, add garlic, spring onion (white) and capsicum, and sauté on a medium flame for 1 minute. Add the baked beans, chilli flakes, tomato ketchup and salt, mix well and cook on a medium heat for 1 minute. Add the spring onion (green), mix well and cook on a medium heat for 1 minute. Divide the baked bean mixture into 6 portions and keep aside. Place the toasts on a clean, dry surface with the buttered side facing upwards. Spread a portion of the baked beans mixture and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheese evenly on each toast. Serve immediately.

WHOLE WHEAT PASTA WITH BROCCOLI

Ingredients

2 cups broccoli, cut into florets

500g whole wheat pasta

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

6 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp red peppers flakes

3 cups chicken stock

½ cup freshly shredded cheese

Salt to taste

Method

Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium heat and cook garlic until soft. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt. Pour chicken stock into the pan and bring to a simmer.

Add broccoli florets and cook until they are bright green and slightly tender. Bring another large pot of salted water to boil and add whole wheat pasta. Cook until pasta is almost tender. Drain and transfer to a large pot. Pour broccoli with sauce over pasta, stir with a wooden spoon. Add ½ cup of cheese. Cover with the lid and let stand until pasta absorbs excess liquid. Serve in bowls and sprinkle each serving with a dusting of cheese and a pinch of red chilli flakes.

NAAN CHANAY

Naan chanay is one of the most relished food items in Pakistan. Chanay is basically a variety of chickpeas which are commonly referred to as ‘deshi chickpeas’ as they are originally from Asia. And naan is a savoury flat bread which is traditionally cooked in a clay oven tandoor and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

The cooking style of chanay changes with the locality, like in the Sindhi region, where they are cooked as a plain curry, while in the Punjabi style, chanay is made with a spicy curry with a sour and tangy taste; sometimes added with potatoes and chicken.

You can have the chanay with either a paratha or roti, but if you truly want to enjoy, then a naan is highly recommended. For sehri, naan chanay is highly recommended as they are healthy, low in fat but high in nutrients.

Ingredients

For the chanay —

250g black chickpeas

¼ cup oil

½ tsp cumin

1 large onion

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

2 tomatoes

Salt to taste

½ tsp red chilli flakes

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chilli powder

½ tbsp coriander powder

¼ cup water

3 cups chickpea water

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp garam masala powder

3-4 green chillies

4 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

3-4 lemon slices

For the naan —

2 cups plain flour

½ cup yoghurt

½ tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

2 tbsp oil

Sesame seeds, as required

Warm water, as required

Method

For the chanay—

Wash the chickpeas and soak in water overnight. Heat oil in a pan, add cumin and sauté. Add onion and cook until light brown. Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for a minute. Add tomatoes, salt, red chilli powder, red chilli flakes, turmeric powder, coriander powder and mix well. Add little water and cook until masala is ready. Add chickpeas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add water in which chickpeas were soaked overnight. Bring it to boil. Cover the lid and cook on low flame for 30-40 minutes. Add lemon juice, garam masala, green chillies and chopped coriander leaves. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with green coriander and lemon slices. Serve hot with naan.

For the naan—

Take a bowl and add plain flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and mix well. Add yoghurt and mix well, then knead it with warm water for 5-6 minutes. Cover and rest it for 4 hours. Make a small ball from the dough. Roll the ball and make a naan and spread some water on it, and sprinkle sesame seeds. Spread water on back of this naan and put it on preheated tawa. Cook it on medium flame and then turn the tawa over flame. Cook until it achieves perfect colour.

When it is done, serve with chanay.

OATS AND YOGHURT PORRIDGE

This recipe is extremely tasty and satisfies your sweet tooth without adding to your calorie count. Oats are high in protein and fibre that energises you and keeps you fit.

Ingredients

5 tbsp oats

2 tbsp yoghurt

1 tbsp honey

3 tbsp pomegranate

3 tbsp pistachio

250ml milk

Method

Soak the oats in milk for 3-4 hour in a bowl. During sehri time, add layers of pomegranate, yoghurt, honey, and pistachios, and serve.

CREAMY FRUIT CHAAT

Ingredients

2 packs fresh cream, chilled

4 cups mixed seasonal fruits, cut into cubes

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp chaat masala

1 tbsp mint leaves

1 tbsp lemon juice

Salt to taste

Method

Clean and cut all the fruits. In a large bowl, put all fruits. Mix all the above ingredients to fruits, and leave it in fridge for 30 minutes and serve.

Photo: Collected

FAQ on diet and Covid-19

There has been much talk about nutrition as a defence mechanism to reduce the chances of contracting the Coronavirus. How important is a change in our dietary intake towards fighting the virus?

Till now, the exact nature of the Coronavirus is unknown. We are practically functioning in the dark regarding the treatment protocol against Covid-19. But it’s been proven long ago that a good immune system can save us from any viral or bacterial infections. Even if infected, a strong immune system can help us overcome the pathogen. So, during this pandemic, our utmost effort should be to bolster our immune systems.

To boost immunity, we need to enrich our diet with enough vitamin C (found in abundance in guava, citrus fruits, amloki, bitter guard, etc); zinc (found in spinach, beef, nuts, milk and milk products); vitamin D3, which the body can make through exposure to sunlight from 10AM to 3PM); and anti-oxidants (found in colourful fruits and vegetables); selenium, magnesium, etc.

Why is hydration considered so important?

Hydration is key to regulating the temperature of the body. And it can help lessen existing fever. Staying hydrated also means healthy membranes. When we cough, sneeze or just breathe, membranes in our nose and mouth eliminate any bacteria.

Moisture helps heal the damaged membranes so foreign organisms cannot enter the body. And also, we need to replace our lost body fluids to make the respiratory secretion thin. When we are dehydrated our respiratory secretion thickens and it becomes hard to clean our lungs naturally, which may even lead to pneumonia.

How should fruits, vegetables and other ingredients be treated before storing/consumption? Is it wise to eat takeaway from restaurants?

The main challenge for takeaway services are physical distancing, and packaging. Even if a responsible restaurant owner maintains social distancing as per protocol, there is a risk of contamination through the packaging of the foods.

The coronavirus can live for hours to days on various surfaces. Some strains of coronavirus live for only a few minutes, while others live for up to 5 days. So, it is best to disinfect all the sealed packaging with disinfectant spray or wash with detergent thoroughly. But when the packaging is not sealed, then its better to keep it in a place of the house out of reach of the family members for 5 days before storing. And for wet groceries like fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish, the packaging materials should be removed as soon as possible. Coronavirus doesn’t seem to spread through exposure to food. Still, it’s recommended to wash fruits and vegetables under running water and soak in lukewarm salted water for 40 minutes before eating. And finally, after storing the groceries, hands must be cleaned with disinfectant solutions.

Current evidence on other coronavirus strains shows that while it appears to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a certain period, food hygiene and good food safety practices can prevent their transmission through food.

The amount of time coronavirus survives on food packaging depends on the material it is made from; for example, 5 days on metal; 4 days on wood; 2 to 3 days on plastics like milk containers; 2 to 3 days on stainless steel like walls of refrigerators, pots and pans, sinks, some water bottles; 2 to 8 hours on soda cans, tinfoil, water bottles; up to 5 days on drinking glasses, measuring cups; 5 days on ceramic dishes, pottery, mugs etc.

The coronavirus crisis has led people to unprecedented financial hardships. What types of food would you suggest for people to include in their diet at an affordable price?  

At this moment, not only for the economic crisis, even for those who do not want to go to the grocery shops to maintain social isolation guidelines, sprouted Bengal gram is a rich source of vitamin C. If there is crisis of meat and fish, we can prepare khichuri (the mixture of lentils and rice) as a source of first-class proteins. We should depend upon seasonal colourful vegetables as a rich source of vitamins and minerals.

What should be included in the dietary chart of those who have unfortunately contracted the coronavirus? Should the diet change as they recover?

A Covid-19 positive patient must include high protein diet to stabilise the immune system. Also, as per World Health Organization (WHO) guideline, a patient needs a minimum intake of 2.5 litres of fluid, and fresh and healthy vitamin rich foods, restrict raw sugar, and include at least 5 servings of vegetables and 4 servings of fruits per day.

Black cumin, ginger, honey, turmeric — these all have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, so they can be included in the diet as well.

Lastly, can diet alone help prevent Covid-19?

No, diet alone cannot fight the coronavirus. Proper and balanced amount of exercise, sound mental health and to maintain all the protocols of hygiene and physical distancing are equally important.

Photo: LS Archive/ Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Help the helpers: support the extended hand

In these days of the pandemic, as we practice social isolation as a family, I have been the one designated with any tasks that required venturing out of the house. Even though these trips were few and not too far, every time I stepped outside of the house a distinctly more dire situation was observable. These snippets, when extrapolated, indicate to increasingly difficult times for many. Numerous people asking/demanding money desperately, visibly destitute yet shy alms seekers, and of course a smattering of goonish extorters, are all a large part of the outside landscape.

As even large companies struggle with salary expenses, thousands of little businesses and service personnel who all depend on a steady flow of freelance work to stay afloat are even worse off, and are cutting expenses. As the multiplier effect kicks in, the trickle-down dries up, large swathes of the society desperately flounder on the brink of utter destitution, and many have fallen over. Many of these people are otherwise quite self-sufficient, making do with their hard work and resilience in normal times.

In all of this doom and gloom, the one golden ray of hope is the sheer gargantuan relief effort being run by the private sector. The resolute dedication hundreds of people have displayed in extending a helping hand is truly amazing. While personal networks have been tremendous, so has been social media in bringing together donors and groups of people with relief plans and determination to create a difference.

Ramadan is when many of us pay off our zakats, and do any extra charity we can. In the run up to this Eid, let us join our hands some more. Of course, we can all individually pick families or people we take services from and support them month-to-month. We can also try seek out some of the following groups, who are also doing a tremendous job, for people, and even for the stray animals who depend on our daily lives for their sustenance.

Shahajjo

Shahajjo (tader jonno amader cheshta), formed out of the individual efforts of a number of friends. The group has reached more than 2,500 families with relief packages of various sizes. The entire effort has been executed with a different approach, as some of the members have previous experience and current connections with development agencies. This has helped them identify and reach pockets of struggling population who otherwise often fall through the cracks of large-scale relief work. Typically, this includes lower middle-income citizens, small service holders, sections of marginalised communities like transgenders, people caring for family members with special needs — all who have fallen into unforeseen troubles.

Shahajjo delivers various types of care packages to many different urban areas, including Mohammadpur, Old Dhaka, Keraniganj, Mirpur, Hajaribagh, Khilgaon, Uttara, Bhatara, etc. Connect via Facebook or call 01918937840.

Obolashroye 

One of the newer organisations working for stray animals, taking up the responsibility to distribute food to numerous hungry stray cats and dogs all over the city, is this non-profit. One can sponsor one animal for an entire month for just Tk 750, or Tk 500 to feed 20 dogs once. They also work on rescue and rehabilitation of injured and sick animals and aim to increase awareness and action for protection of animal rights.

Connect via Facebook or call/Bkash 01728871732.

Jagoron (01986070403), Dhaka COVID-19 Crisis Relief (01952720385), Chattogram COVID-19 Crisis Relief, members of Care for Paws, Pashe Achi Initiative (01975888855) are just some of the groups that can use financial support. On the international front, UNHCR, and many other organisations make regular appeals for funds on social media, and even our small donations can make a huge difference in the lives of the people that they reach.

The economic crisis created by the prolonged lockdown is likely to have far reaching effects on the financial situation of millions of people, and although it is the government’s job, it is just not feasible for them to reach everyone in a country like ours. Let us join the effort, however we can.

Understanding the symptoms of Covid-19, common cold and allergy

Ever since the pandemic broke out, some of my friends and family have been calling whenever they get a cough, runny nose, or sore throat. Of course, most of them are scared and stressed, and want to be reassured whether the symptoms point to a virus infection.

And that concern is perfectly natural. Which is why, to ease your mental burden, I want to point out some differences between an allergy/the common cold and Covid-19.

First of all, lets start with the common cold. Anyone and everyone can get a common cold. The symptoms are a runny nose with stuffy or blocked feeling, sneezing, watery eyes, a sore throat and sometimes a low-grade fever with a sense of being unwell.

The cough that we get with a cold is usually mild and has sputum with it. A cold usually lasts 7-10 days and goes away with or without medication. The fever is low grade or absent in common colds. Simple paracetamols with antihistamines will cure it.

In case of allergic rhinitis, the patient usually knows they have the allergies, yet they could forget that they had the same symptoms last year too! Usually, allergy symptoms can include sneezing with a runny nose, watery eyes, an itchy throat, but rarely a cough. This happens when exposed to dust, or some smell, or foods. It may also be triggered by weather changes like rain, heat, or cold. Allergies do not cause a fever. 

Patients with allergic rhinitis should start their regular anti-allergic meds if they get an episode. This will help to reduce or even control the situation.

If this is new to you, try taking simple antihistamines, which are available over the counter or consult with your doctor over the phone.

Some patients with asthma are also worried when they are getting attacks, but please do not panic. Start your usual inhaler and if necessary, oral medications. For these patients, my advice is to keep your medications on hand.

Now, about Covid-19. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the major symptoms are high fever, cough which is dry, and breathlessness, which is mild at first but gets worse with passing time. The cough is a persistent one and nothing will come out— i.e. there will be no sputum. Along with this, the patient will feel exhausted, lose appetite, and become weak.

The latest study also says patient may develop loss of smell, experience diarrhoea, and difficulty in breathing, when the infection gets worse.

If you have a fever above 101 degrees for more than few days with cough and breathlessness, start taking paracetamol to control the fever. Isolate yourself to a room with attached bathroom facilities, and maintain quarantine from other members of the house. If the symptoms persist and get worse, contact your doctor, who will then advise if you need to get tested. The important thing to remember is that even if you have Covid-19, most patients recover on their own. A very small percentage of infected patients need hospitalisation.

A few weeks ago, travel history was very important, but now, as the spread is community wise, we just have to be extra careful with our contacts and where we are going. Wearing masks is very important when we are around other people, along with social distancing and frequent hand-washing.

Keep a sanitiser with you at all times if you need to be out of the house, to avoid cross contamination through various surfaces., even money.

Photo: Collected