Novel Coronavirus started in Wuhan as the epicenter in China rapidly spread all across the globe in no time. At the time of writing this article, there are more than 500,000 cases in the world and more than 100,000 cases in the United States. The rapid spread of COVID-19 disease indicates the highly infective nature of the virus. There is still no effective vaccine or solid treatment available for COVID-19 illness. ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is probably more apt to this pandemic than anything else. Here is the list of the best preventive measures that all of us should follow to break the spread.
Wash hands regularly: Although this strategy is beaten up by multiple health authorities and social media, this is probably the most effective way of preventing Novel Coronavirus infection. Always use soap and water for at least 20 seconds or more. Remember to wash the back of hands, under nails, fingertips and wrists. If forearms are exposed, wash forearms until your elbows. It is important to use the paper towel to turn off the faucet or close the restroom door.
Use hand-sanitizer: Hand-sanitizers that have at least 60% alcohol should be used. Keep a small hand-sanitizer with you all the time. Whenever handwashing is not possible, please use hand-sanitizer. Remember, hand-sanitizer is not as effective as handwashing but it is definitely protective.
Do not touch your face: Coronavirus spreads when you touch an object carrying infection and immediately touch your eyes, nose or mouth. An average person touches his or her face more than 300 times a day. While it is not easy to avoid touching our faces, we should make every attempt not to touch. This becomes even more important when you are outside your home in any grocery store or at public places.
Wear facemasks: Regular facemasks are good enough when worn appropriately. N95 respirator masks may not be needed unless you are with an infected person in a closed space. Wear facemasks whenever you are in a crowded or public place. Remember not to touch the outside of the facemask as it may get infected when you are outside. Use earloops to remove the facemask without touching the outside of the mask. As there is acute shortage of masks in the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend routine use of masks for public.
Gloves: It is little tricky with gloves. When you wear gloves and touch your face, you still spread the infection. You can wear gloves but it is important not to touch your face. It is also important not to touch the outside of the gloves when you remove them. Even if you wear gloves, please wash your hands after you remove the gloves. Several healthcare organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization do not recommend wearing gloves routinely because of improper usage and risk of spread of infection.
Avoid public places: It is advisable to avoid public places because of increased risk of contracting infection even with precautions.
Social distancing: Droplets usually do not travel more than a meter when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is important to maintain this distance from other people in the community to reduce the spread of infection.
Avoid shaking hands: This is one of the common ways of spread of infection. Even some of the world leaders got affected by COVID-19 probably by shaking hands. As people without symptoms can spread COVID-19, it is important not to touch other people in the community.
Avoid unnecessary travel: Traveling, especially air travel, increases the risk of contracting the infection as you are exposed to hundreds of people and fomites. Fomites are objects that carry infection like furniture, doorknobs, clothes, etc.
Clean and disinfect: All frequently touched objects should be cleaned and disinfected daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
Maintain good personal hygiene: Take a shower daily, use washed clothes, wash hands right after using restroom, use tissue or inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Tissue should be thrown into trash right after using it. Adequate sleep and rest are also important.
Healthy diet and exercise: A healthy diet and exercise are very important to fight any infection. They boost our immunity and provide us a sound body and mind. A healthy balanced diet provides us all required vitamins and minerals in a natural way that helps to prevent and fight infections. Adequate hydration is important as well. Similarly, regular exercise improves our lung capacity, boosts immunity and improves oxygenation to prevent infections.
Vitamin C: Data around vitamin C is ambiguous if it really helps prevent Coronavirus infection. However, there are some studies showing benefits in special circumstances like heavy physical exertion, excess stress and also in children. As there are no adverse effects related to vitamin C, it does not hurt taking it during this pandemic.
Seek immediate medical attention if you develop fever, cough, body aches, sore throat, fatigue, headache or shortness of breath, please notify your doctor immediately. During a pandemic, it is not easy to test everyone with related symptoms. You may be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. If you have symptoms, it is important to be in self-quarantine to protect your family and your community.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
World Health Organization, Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic