In the face of increasingly widespread fears of a COVID-19 pandemic, what concrete steps can a person take right now to prevent the infection?
This condition has caused many people around the world to feel anxious about becoming infected, and social media outlets and public forums abound with questions about how to keep COVID-19 at bay.
This Special Feature is a practical guide that describes the best ways to avoid a respiratory infection at home, at work, at school, and while traveling.
Based on the information received so far, and on our experience with other coronaviruses, COVID-19 appears to spread mostly through respiratory droplets (when a sick person coughs, for example) and close contact.
- Clean the hands commonly with an alcohol-based sanitizer, or wash them with soap and water. The CDC also make this recommendation, advising that sanitizer should contain “at least 60% alcohol” and that people should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Clean surfaces — such as kitchen seats and work desks — regularly with disinfectant.
- Avoid crowded areas when going out, for people over 60 years old and people with any underlying health problems.
- Try to avoid close contact with people who display flu-like symptoms, including coughing and sneezing.
What if you have flu-like symptoms?
What happens if you start experiencing flu-like symptoms despite your best attempts to stay healthy?
The WHO spokesperson who responded to MNT queries offered the following advice:
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue, then dispose of the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- If you feel unwell, stay home and call your doctor or a local health professional.
- If you develop shortness of breath, call your doctor and seek care immediately.
- If you are sick: Stay home, eat and sleep separately from others in the house, and use different utensils and cutlery.