COVID-19 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Therefore, practising hand hygiene and cough etiquette is vital to prevent the spread of the virus.
1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick (coughing, sneezing, and other flu-like symptoms). Maintain a distance of at least 1m apart from others while in public.
2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Watch this video from the World Health Organisation on the proper handwashing techniques. If you cannot access soap and water at that moment, carry a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something. Find out more about proper handwashing practices with this useful guide - https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/
3. Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc. to prevent infection. These are potential entry points for the virus.
4. Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs. Practice routine cleaning of items and surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, credit cards, and cell phones).
5. Another surface we tend to forget about is the bin. These are breeding grounds for germs so regularly disinfecting trash cans (especially the ones we leave outside on refuse removal days) should be high up on the list of safety measures to prevent infection.
6. Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
7. Practice proper cough etiquette. This means staying a safe distance from others, covering your mouth with your sleeve or a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing; safely dispose of tissues
8. When going to the shops, bring linen or mesh produce bags from home. These can be washed and reused repeatedly.
9 If you have to use the store's baskets, carts and bags, keep alcohol-based sanitary wipes or hand sanitizer with you to wipe down surfaces. Remember to sanitise your hands before you go home, and thoroughly wash them with soap and water as soon as you arrive (before touching anything or anyone).
10. Do card payments. Banknotes and coins are frequently touched items and known breeding grounds for germs. So, when going out to buy the essentials, opt for card payments instead of cash. Remember to clean your cards after every use, though.
11. When returning from the shops: Be sure to change clothes and either leave your shoes outside or wipe them down with hygiene wipes. Also, thoroughly wipe down groceries with sanitizing wipes before storing, and wash your hands afterwards.
12 Lastly, here's something you can do all year round to boost your immune system: maintain a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and avoid highly processed foods that are loaded with sugar and trans fats. While you won't find a 'magical immune booster' that works overnight, vitamins A, B6, B9, B12, C, D, E, as well as Iron, Zinc, and Selenium will lead you in the right direction. These vitamins are present in certain foods (all of which qualify as 'essential' during the lockdown), there are supplements available in tablet form.
NOTE: Taking additional vitamins is not necessary unless you have been diagnosed by your doctor with a specific nutrient deficiency
Some of these precautionary measures may seem excessive but as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow dramatically - not only in SA but all around the world - it’s better to be safe than sorry. You’re not only protecting yourself but those around you too.