Q My next door neighbour has three kids aged from about two to seven. We are living on a terrace so are quite close together. Every day the kids blow bubbles, which often travel into our garden. This makes my wife very nervous as we are over 70 and she is worried that it is a risk for Covid-19. I want to say something if there is a risk with bubbles. What do you think?
A I think the risk of catching Covid-19 from a child's blow bubbles landing directly on your face is very low. But the truth is, no one really knows. There is a lack of robust evidence supporting the idea that kids are carriers or 'spreaders' of Covid-19. It is known that respiratory viruses spread by hitching a ride in tiny airborne water droplets from the airway of infected people. This can happen when speaking, singing and obviously from coughing or sneezing when in (1) close contact, (2) in a confined space, (3) for a number of minutes. These three factors must come into play for the majority of airborne droplet infections to occur. That's why a nightclub or an airplane is a perfect breeding ground for Covid-19.
Understandably there is huge amount of anxiety, particularly in the older population when out and about. But the chance of catching Covid-19 from a passer-by is negligible. There is no evidence it can be transmitted in this way. Being outdoors significantly reduces the risk of infection.
If you remain concerned when sitting on your terrace, I suggest you both wear a home-made cloth mask for the few minutes that the children are blowing bubbles. Obviously the cloth masks need to be washed after you take them off for the first time and don't forget your hand hygiene thereafter.
MY EYES ARE SORE SINCE LOCKDOWN
Q My eyes are so sore since the lockdown as most of my business is conducted through Zoom meetings. I have never had any issues with my eyes before and they were tested recently. I have been using eye drops for dry eyes but I am worried that I will become reliant on them. Could this happen? Is there any screen cover that would mitigate the irritation?
A If you really do have dry eyes and the eye drops relieve your symptoms, then by all means use them. They contain lubricating agents and will not cause dependence if you do not have any underling medical cause for your dry eye. Of course, people who suffer with severe dry eyes will need to use them several times per day for the rest of their lives. You said you went for an eye test recently and I wonder did the optician examine your tear production by doing a Schirmer's test, examine your drainage system, look for signs of eye allergy, infection or damage to the surface of the eye?
I suggest you use common sense and take regular breaks from your screen. Working close up can strain the muscles in your eye that are used to constrict and relax your pupil and lens. If you focus on an object in the distance for a few minutes, eg a tree down the end of your garden, this helps relax the eye muscles and may reduce your eye strain.
⬤ Dr Jennifer Grant is a GP with Beaqcon HealthCheck
Health & Living