The novel coronavirus 2019 or COVID-19 has got the world up and running on its feet to figure out how to contain the outbreak, to develop faster testing techniques and multiple research projects are underway to find potential vaccines and antiviral medicines to prevent or treat the infections
However, in these testing times, it is important to not panic, and instead, maintain composure while practising some important protection measures and taking up precautions when necessary. Here are 7 things you can do to stay safe:
Wash hands frequently
Hand hygiene is the most important factor in protecting yourself, according to WHO. Wash your hands at least for 20 seconds frequently if you have been in contact with multiple objects or in a crowded area. Make sure you are scrubbing the back of your hands, between the fingers and under the nails. Using regular soap and water is enough, and washing up to half your forearms is recommended. In situations where you cannot do so, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers is the next best option.
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth
Your hands can pick up the virus from surfaces. Once contaminated, the virus can enter your body when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. It would be advisable to avoid shaking hands and hugging people who may be sick or may have returned from places where outbreaks have happened- it is important to do so politely too.
Practise respiratory hygiene
As mentioned before, the coronavirus infection spreads via droplets of saliva and mucus. Practise good respiratory hygiene by covering your face while coughing or sneezing into your elbow when in crowded places. Make sure to dispose of used tissues or masks carefully.
Avoid crowded places
Try not to be present in crowded places. If someone sneezes or coughs, you may catch the virus since the droplets can levitate in the air within several feet from the sneeze and for over 10 minutes. If travelling is a must, then it is advised to steer clear of a sick person and wear a mask. WHO has recommended avoiding non-essential travel to high-risk coronavirus-affected countries. Always check the travel advisory before you proceed with any plans.
Wear a mask
Not everyone needs to wear a mask. If you are a healthcare provider, or if you are caring for an infected person, or if you are sick or having symptoms, or if you are going to be amongst a large crowd, you need to wear a mask to contain and prevent the spread of droplets. Do not hoard masks as they are not foolproof methods to avoid catching the infection. Remove the mask from the back of the head instead of touching it while disposing.
Follow good personal hygiene
Make sure you’re cleaning your house with disinfectant. Ensure food is cooked properly. Avoid raw or undercooked food. Avoid contact with live animals, and if you do so, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
There is no evidence however of the infection spreading to pets, but it would always be helpful to wash your hands frequently, especially before and after contact with your pet, as a precaution.
Talk to a doctor
If you are showing signs of fever, cough or breathing difficulties, wear a mask and visit your doctor for a check up after informing duly that you might be suspecting the infection. Additionally, if you have these symptoms and have been in contact with someone who has the infection and if you have returned from an area where an outbreak has occurred, it is important to report to a helpline number dedicated to handling this, and then visiting the nearest hospital as per instructions given
Preparation in case of a state of emergency: Stock up, not hoard!
- If your state declares an emergency, make sure to inform your near and dear ones to head home and not indulge in major public gatherings.
- Stock up essentials: prescription medicines, groceries, sanitizers and soap. Please do not hoard as the world is not about to end. If you know that you have bought more than what is required, donate to those in need- the sick, the poor, the elderly.
- Avoid stepping out and practice social distancing as this may be the key to flatten the disease curve.
- Keep a track of cases in your local area and be mindful of your surroundings.
It is advised that you do not panic. Combat the fear through information and precaution. When detected on time, coronavirus can be treated effectively under observation in a hospital. Please follow good personal and hand hygiene, local safety measures and consult a doctor when experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness.