5 Must Do To Protect Yourself From Coronavirus

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. 

But what are some precautionary measures that a normal person can do to stop the virus from spreading? We asked some Medical professionals for some advice. There are at least 5 Precautionary methods that a normal person can do. 

1. Try to Avoid Non-Essential travel if you are at High Risk.

The first rule of traveling during an outbreak is to ask—do I really need to travel during an outbreak? At a certain point, everyone has to weigh the pros and cons of travel during a global outbreak like Covid-19 to decide if you should still go or are better off staying at home. The cons are higher if you are in a high-risk group for infection, for example, if you have a weakened immune system.  “I would caution folks with chronic conditions and compromised immune systems, such as senior citizens and people with young children, to avoid travel if possible,” says Niket Sonpal, MD, a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist, and clinical instructor at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn.

Since Laura and I are healthy 40-somethings, we were still willing to roll the dice at the time. We understood the risks and were taking all the necessary precautions to protect ourselves through smart packing and following safer travel protocols.

However, our tour company canceled in early March due to the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak. I must admit, I felt somewhere between heartbroken and relieved at this decision—that someone else made it for me. “Perhaps it’s for the best,” my mother said while consoling me. However, if you must travel for whatever reason, here are some things you should do.

The CDC recommends relying on everyday preventive actions and good hygiene to help prevent the spread of germs and respiratory diseases—including Covid-19. These measures include frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. However, that may not always be feasible, especially while traveling. That’s where hand sanitizer comes in: “If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol,” suggests Raj Dasgupta, MD, who is board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at the University of Southern California. “And be extra careful about hand-washing if you are taking care of a newborn or an individual who has a weakened immune system.

2. Carry Anti- Bacterial Wipes

Be sure to slip some disinfecting wipes in your carryon and use them, liberally. “When traveling, wipe down tables, chairs, trays, and seat belts with sanitary wipes that kill 99 percent of germs, advises Douglas P. Jeffrey, a medical advisor for Medi health and a family medicine specialist from Eugene, Oregon. “Also, clean off objects such as handles and doorknobs before handling.”

3. Skip The Mask

The only reason you would need to wear a mask is if you’re taking care of a person with suspected Covid-19 infection, you are coughing or sneezing, or you’re using it in combination with frequent hand-cleansing, according to the WHO. And another thing:

 You must know how to wear and dispose of it properly. If you fall into these categories, the organization offers videos on proper mask usage. Amy Fuller, DNP, director of Endicott College’s family nurse practitioner master’s degree program, agrees that masks are not effective for protection. “If you are sick or coughing, you should wear a mask,” she says. “Otherwise, they are just helpful as a reminder to not touch your mouth or nose.” 

Another reason to skip the mask, she says, is that panicked people buying up hordes of masks and stockpiling them or shipping them overseas means there aren’t enough for those who do need them—healthcare workers and caregivers. That applies to both surgical masks and N95 respirators, which look similar but are different. One—the N95 respirator—protects against bacteria and viruses while face masks do not.

4. Don't Touch Your Face

Actually, this is an all-the-time thing: A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Infectious Control revealed that on average, people touch their faces 23 times per hour, and nearly half of those touches were on the eyes, nose, and mouth—an effective way to infect yourself. “Avoid touching your eyes, face, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands, as this could easily pass the virus from hand to mucous membranes, where a virus can set up shop,” says Dr. Harry.

5. Be Anti-Social

“Travelers should pay close attention to people in their surroundings and give a wide berth to someone coughing continuously, or who is wiping sweat off their face and seems feverish,” advises Dr. Sonpal. “This might be the only time in your life that you want to be as anti-social as possible. The fewer people you come into close contact with, the better. It’s a numbers game and the more you can cut your odds, the better.”

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