Seeing the numbers of COVID-19 cases rise every day would run a lot of questions in your mind. How did it start? Is there a vaccine yet? How many more days in quarantine? But one thing that we wish to know and stay updated about for the sake of our friends, family and ourselves is how to stay safe. This is because the most daunting thing about COVID-19 is that it is spreading like wildfire and we have no cure.
So what should you do? Can you protect yourself from the global pandemic? Yes, absolutely. It all comes down to self-care. In the present scenario, caring for oneself is caring for others. So this post is meant for the purpose of acquainting you with the most effective ways of staying protected during the global pandemic.
How Does the Virus Spread?
To be able to take all the preventive measures for any kind of disease, you must first know how it is transmitted. After all, you can’t shoot an arrow in thin air. You need to aim it at a target. So how does COVID-19 spread?
People who are infected with COVID-19 show symptoms similar to the common flu, such as coughing, sneezing, sore throat, headache and fever. This is because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. It attacks all the organs that you need to breathe and can go deep into your lungs to cause inflammation of the air passages. Hence the coughing and sneezing. But, for the virus to be able to damage your body, it has to get inside. And that happens through your mucus membranes.
When a person infected by COVID-19 is showing respiratory symptoms, mainly, coughing and sneezing, he or she lets out the virus in their respiratory droplets. You must have seen the tiny drops of water or spray that is released when you cough or sneeze. These are called respiratory droplets that carry the virus. However, these droplets are big enough to not stay in the air. So they fall to the ground immediately after a cough or a sneeze. But, if there is a person in close contact with you or within a distance of six feet, their chances of getting sick are very high. By inhaling the droplets, the virus comes in contact with the mucous membranes in the nose and infect the host.
Another way of direct transmission is touch. Your chances of getting sick is high when you shake hands, hug, kiss or engage in any other physical contact with an infected person.
Indirect transmission happens through surfaces especially ones that are frequently touched by people. For example, door locks, pizza boxes, handrails, money and even your mobile phones. When an infected person touches a surface, the virus stays there for quite some time. Depending on the environmental conditions like sunlight, humidity and temperature, this time can be anywhere from a few minutes to several days. And when a healthy person touches their nose, eyes or mouth after touching the infected surface, the virus comes in contact with the mucous membrane and enters the body.
How to Avoid Catching COVID-19?
At the moment, we do not have a vaccine or cure for the coronavirus. This is why every health official is emphasizing on following precautionary measures. It is the only way of making sure that you do not catch the virus. So if you wish to keep yourself and your loved ones protected from the current pandemic, just avoid all sorts of exposure to it. Here’s how you can make sure that you don’t catch or transmit the virus.
Maintain Proper Hygiene
The most effective and most important way of staying safe from COVID-19 is maintaining proper hygiene. I cannot emphasize more on how essential it is to keep yourself and your surroundings clean and disinfected. Here are some ways you can practice proper hygiene.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
The easiest way that the virus enters your mucous membranes is through your hands. So it is imperative to wash your hands as frequently as possible. To be able to perform your daily tasks your hands have to be all over the place. You use the same dirty fingertips to scribble your nose or rub your eyes. You may swear of not touching your face but it is surprising how often we touch our faces throughout the day. According to a study, the number is as high as 23 times an hour. And 44 percent of this contact is with mucous membranes. This means, in a day, you have a 1056 percent chance of catching the virus if your hands are not clean.
You can use any foaming hand wash or soap to clean your hands but don’t be careless about it. Remember to rub your hands for at least 20 seconds. For more information check out the CDC guidelines on how to wash your hands properly.
And If you have been out to buy essentials or for any other reason, get into the bathroom without touching anything and have a bath.
For when you are out or in place with no access to water and soap like supermarkets, sanitizers are the best option to keep the hand clean. But, not just any sanitizer works to kill the virus. You must use one that has at least 60 percent alcohol and is not expired. Remember to generously cover your hands after coming in contact with frequently touched objects.
Disinfect Your Home
Cross-contamination is very much possible. If you touch a contaminated surface and enter your home without sanitizing your hands, you increase the chances of contaminating other places in your home. This is why you must diligently sanitize your home with EPA registered disinfectants.
Wear Protective Gear
In addition to sanitizing everything, remember to wear protective gear like masks and gloves. It is important for people showing symptoms of COVID-19 to always wear a mask. If you are living in a hotspot area, you must also cover your mouth and nose with a mask or at least a cloth before heading out.
Practice Social Distancing
A crucial aspect of protection against COVID-19 is social distancing or physical distancing. Because if you are not exposing yourself to contaminated surfaces and infected people, there is no way for you to catch the virus. So it is important to avoid social gatherings, public places and even public transport. If you do come around people, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet because there are asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 too. This means that even though they are not coughing or sneezing they may be contagious.
But, the most important reason why social distancing is important is because of the incubation period of the virus. It takes about 1 to 14 days for the virus to show symptoms. And all this while the person can still infect others and contaminate surfaces. You can practice social distancing by opting for deliveries, using the internet for work and even for meeting with friends. So stay home and slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Support Your Immune System
While you are quarantined at your home make sure that your immune system is healthy and strong. So here are some ways to support your immune system while staying at home.
- Do not compromise on sleep. Lack of proper rest can damage your immune system.
- Keep your gut healthy. Have fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha or use probiotics to keep your gut’s good bacteria healthy.
- Get a nutritious diet. Proper levels of micronutrients in the body keep the immune system healthy and working properly.
- Stay hydrated. Water detoxifies your body and maintains the proper working of all the vital body functions.
- Avoid alcohol. Excessive drinking can impair the working of your immune system by attacking the good bacteria in your gut.
- Give up on smoking. Smoke has harmful chemicals that put your lungs in stress. And increase your chances of developing complications from the virus.
- Get enough physical exercise. It helps keep your immune system vigilant to foreign substances. And also keeps a check on the stress hormone.
- Avoid stress because cortisol can act as an immunosuppressant.
Be Critical of all Information Related to COVID-19
Uncertainty is the biggest cause of rumors related to the coronavirus as people have lots of doubts and wish to know the cure. Many immoral people try to use such desperate times for their own benefit. This is why whenever a WhatsApp message or social media post about ways to stay protected, springs up, we incline more towards believing it than being skeptical. And more than often, forward it to the people we care about.
While not all such information is fiction, a major fraction of it are claims with no scientific backup. It may even make you more susceptible to contracting or transmitting the virus or if not the virus, it can expose you to some other damage. So whenever you come across such posts, just take some time to visit the WHO and the CDC website or even Google. See if there are any reliable sources backing up the claims.
There is no clarity about how long we may have to go through this global pandemic. There is also no certainty about when a deployable vaccine will be available. Keeping this in mind it is important to do what we can to curb the spread of the virus. Athis involves caring for ourselves by employing all preventive measures. So, make sure that you follow these protective ways at all times and also share it with friends and family to keep them safe.