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Practical Tips to Protect Yourself from Covid-19

COVID-19 has affected us all, some more than others. We do not know when we will move past the pandemic. Scientists around the world are working on potential vaccines and treatment protocols but there are no definite answers yet.

In the meantime, we all need to do our best to protect ourselves and those around us from COVID-19.  

Below are a few ways you can prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Focus on Healthy Behaviors

Clinical evidence suggests that those who have diabetes, heart or lung disease, are overweight or have autoimmune disease are at greater risk for contracting COVID-19 and have worse cases of the virus.

Commit to eating healthy and get outside to exercise where you also get vitamin D, which is linked to better clinical outcomes after contracting the virus.

Understand How COVID-19 or the Novel Coronavirus Spreads

An infected person releases the novel coronavirus through respiratory droplets from the mouth or nose.

When the virus in these droplets or tiny particles called aerosols enters another person’s mouth, nose, or eyes directly from an infected person talking, coughing, or sneezing) or indirectly through a secondary medium, they may get infected.

The 3 most common ways the virus is transmitted based on current research are:

  • Droplet-Based Transmission: Anyone within around six feet of an infected person can breathe the virus into their lungs. The CDC recently recognized that the virus can spread beyond six feet indoors.
  • Surface Transmission: Anyone touching a surface that has been contaminated by an infected person that coughed or sneezed on it and later touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, could catch COVID-19.
  • Airborne Transmission: The virus can survive in the air for up to 3 hours.

Now that you know how COVID-19 spreads, let’s look at some of the best ways to avoid contracting the virus.

Practice Hand and Respiratory Hygiene

These are two of the most powerful things you can do to protect yourself against COVID-19; wash your hands properly and often and wear a face mask.

Wearing a face covering, medical mask or an N95 medical respirator mask will reduce your risk from droplet-based transmission of COVID-19. Make sure the mask covers both your mouth and nose up to the ridge..

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water can protect you from the surface transmission of COVID-19. Soap can kill the novel Coronavirus. 

You need to make sure to thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Practice hand and respiratory hygiene especially when you step out of your home or care for a sick family member. 

Social distancing can help in keeping you safe from all three modes of virus transmission.

If you or other family members need to leave home on a regular basis and are exposed to potentially infected people, you may want to consider using a rapid COVID-19 detection kit. 

This way, even if one family member is infected, he or she can isolate to protect other family members who may be at higher risk of developing severe illnesses due to the coronavirus. 

Avoid  Contact With High-Touch Surfaces with Your Hands

In March this year, a research letter was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Titled “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1,” the research letter revealed the results of a study that investigated how long SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 could remain active on surfaces or in the air.

The study found that the virus can remain detectable on stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to three days. The virus remained on copper for about 4 hours. It could even remain viable on cardboard for up to 24 hours.  

To be safe, treat all surfaces as if they could be contaminated.

The easiest solution is to avoid putting your hands on high-touch surfaces.

Gloves may seem like a good idea, but they can transmit the virus if you don’t know how to use and take them off properly.

If you must touch a potentially infected surface such as an elevator button or a bus seat, be sure not to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes until you have sanitized your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

At home or in your office, remember to disinfect high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, countertops, etc. with an alcohol-based disinfectant on a regular basis.

Leave Shoes at the Entrance

A recent report from the CDC says that COVID-19 can be carried on shoes. A person might just step on a respiratory droplet or shoes rub against a contaminated surface. Although the likelihood of the novel Coronavirus spreading through shoes is low, it is advisable to take precautions.

When family members return to the house, ask them to leave shoes at the entrance especially if infants or young children crawl or play on the floor.

What about Clothes?

So far, there have been no documented cases of COVID-19 transmission via clothing. We know that the virus is capable of surviving on different surfaces. These surfaces, if touched, can result in transmission.

The virus does need some moisture in order to survive. The virus can no longer be viable if it dries up on a piece of fabric. Don’t simply assume that the virus won’t survive on clothes. The virus could stay active if clothing is moist through rain or sweat.

Fortunately, it’s easy to disinfect clothes with household detergent or laundry soap.

According to a recommendation from the WHO, the clothes should be washed in water heated up to 60-90 degree Celsius, especially if you are caring for a COVID-19 positive person or come in frequent contact with potentially infected people.

Do not use a clothing item again until it’s completely dry.

You can use a household disinfectant with 0.1% sodium hydrochloride to disinfect laundry baskets.

Avoid the Three C’s

Be sure to avoid Crowded places, Closed spaces, and Close-contact environments as much as practical until the pandemic is over.

Some of the most common ways to avoid the three C’s include:

  • If you must meet other people in a small place, try to ensure frequent ventilation. For example, open doors and windows to reduce the concentration of ambient microbes, virus particles, etc.
  • When you are outdoors, avoid walking or exercising in large groups.
  • Avoid visiting beaches, shopping malls, etc. unless absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid dining in big groups at restaurants; if possible, leave one seat empty between you and sit diagonally across the other person.
  • Refrain from getting too close to other people when inside a train or elevator. Maintain a safe distance and make space for others.

Do Not Lower Your Guard

The World Health Organization (WHO) in June clarified that scientists have yet to determine the “actual rates of asymptomatic transmission” of COVID-19.

The clarification from Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, came after public health experts across the world criticized her earlier statement, in which she had suggested that asymptomatic transmission is “very rare.” 

Scientists do not yet know how frequently asymptomatic COVID-19 positive people, could be passing on the disease to others. Asymptomatic carriers exhibit no symptoms at all making them hard to identify.

In fact, the majority of those infected by COVID-19 are asymptomatic. According to a recent BBC news report, only 22 percent of patients testing positive for COVID-19 exhibited any symptom on the day they were tested.

You don't know whether the stranger next to you is a silent carrier of the virus. Don’t lower your guard even when you are around seemingly healthy individuals outside your home.

Use Common Sense to Fight COVID-19

Continue practicing social distancing, hand hygiene, proper nutrition and respiratory hygiene to protect yourself from COVID-19 even when around seemingly healthy people  

Author: Leon Reingold is the Editor-in-Chief at Drugtestsinbulk, a nationwide supplier of drug and alcohol testing products online.