How to prevent Coronavirus? 5 protective measures recommended by the WHO
The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been declared a global pandemic, and it is now present in almost every country on the planet. Although the disease has only minor symptoms in the vast majority of people, it can escalate to become severe and even fatal in some cases.
Therefore, it is vital that we all play our part in preventing the spread of the disease. This is not only to protect our own health, but also the health of others, particularly the most vulnerable.
Wash your hands frequently
Health experts have been very consistent in telling us that washing our hands frequently is one of the best things we can do to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. This is so vital because properly washing or sanitising your hands kills the viruses that you could carry on your hands. COVID-19 has been shown to live for up to three days on hard surfaces. This means you could easily pick it up by touching a surface that an infected person has touched, and then infect yourself as soon as you touch your face.
Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, which means for at least 20 seconds under running water, with soap, and scrubbing all parts of your hands. See this guide from UNICEF on how to properly wash your hands. Hand sanitiser is also highly effective in killing the virus, and it's useful for situations when running water and soap is not available. Similarly to hand washing, sanitiser should be applied thoroughly to all parts of the hands, including between the fingers and the backs of the hands.
Avoid people and large groups
Another very effective way to prevent the Coronavirus is to maintain social distancing. Social distancing means avoiding contact with other people as much as possible, and in particular large groups of people. This also means strictly staying at home when you are unwell and minimising contact with others, keeping a distance of at least 1.5 metres.
This is important because the COVID-19 virus has been found to be airborne. One study found that the virus can live up to three hours in aerosols. When people who have the Coronavirus cough or sneeze, they release tiny droplets into the air, which others may inhale, causing them to become sick.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
As already mentioned, you can pick up the virus when you touch surfaces or other people, for example by shaking hands. If you then touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands, you can transfer the virus to these areas where the virus can easily enter your body.
This is a difficult habit to break that makes people especially vulnerable to viruses. Unlike most other animals, humans touch their faces constantly throughout the day. For a disease like the Coronavirus that can live for a long time on surfaces and is highly infectious, this can spread the virus very quickly.
Respiratory hygiene: wear a mask when sick
Another important habit is to have strong respiratory hygiene. Respiratory hygiene involves covering your mouth or nose when you’re sick with either your elbow or a tissue. Do not cover it with your hand, as this will quickly spread the virus. Be sure to dispose of any tissue you use immediately.
Respiratory hygiene also means wearing a facemask when you are sick, whenever you are around other people. It is not necessary to wear a facemask if you are not sick, only if you have symptoms. These measures will prevent the spread of the virus to other people through droplets in the air.
Seek medical advice immediately
If you have the symptoms of the Coronavirus, notably fever, cough and difficulty breathing, it is important that you seek medical advice immediately. In order to maintain social distance when you are well, be sure to call your doctor or hospital rather than visiting in person and follow the instructions of your local health authority.
This is important because local health authorities need to have the most current information about the situation in the area, so you must report your illness even if you do not think you need medical attention. Calling ahead allows you to be directed to the most appropriate care while minimising the risk of infecting others.
Preventing the spread of the Coronavirus is everyone’s responsibility. You can play your part through frequent hand washing and sanitising, social distancing, avoiding touching your face, wearing a face mask when sick, and reporting any illness immediately to health authorities.