May 30, 2020

How to Protect Yourself and Others from Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19)

COVID-19 is a new disease, and although knowledge of this disease is rapidly increasing, there is still limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease.

Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, however, it appears that older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like cancer, heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, it is imperative that you know and understand how this new infection is spread, what you should and should not do, how to keep your environment safe and how to monitor your health and that of your loved ones. This article discussed how you can take steps to protect yourself and others from Covid 19 disease.

How does Covid-19 spread?

Knowing how this novel coronavirus spreads is the first step toward protecting yourself and your loved ones.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within roughly 2 meters i.e. about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Taking important steps to protect yourself and others

To protect yourself and loved ones around you, everyone should do the following.

1). Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Wash your hands often with soap and water
Wash your hands often with soap and water
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

2). Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. If possible, maintain 2 meters (i.e. 6 feet) between the person who is sick and other household members.

Put reasonable distance between yourself and other people outside of your home. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. Therefore:
  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
  • Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
3). Cover your mouth and nose with a face cover when around others.

Wearing non-medical face mask safely
Click on image to enlarge [+]
You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. Therefore, everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.

Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.

Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

4). Cover coughs and sneezes
If you are around others and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.

Throw used tissues in the trash.

Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

5). Clean and disinfect
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common household disinfectants will work (see the USEPA-registered list of disinfectants for use against Covid-19).

6). Monitor Your Health
Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. This is especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.

Take your temperature if symptoms develop. Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.

Finally, please follow the guidance of the appropriate government agency in your country if symptoms develop. This could be CDC in the US, NCDC in Nigeria, PHE in England, or GHS in Ghana. Whatever the government agency in charge of Covid-19 control in your country, follow its official advice.




Reference(s)
1). World Health Organization: Coronavirus - WHO Health Topics. Accessed 20.05.20. Available here: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
2). Centers for Disease Control: Coronavirus (COVID-19). Accessed 20.05.20. Available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

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