What researchers know so far is that COVID-19 spreads through invisible droplets that come from sneezing, coughing, and talking. Instead of travelling through air over long distances, these droplets either fall to the ground or onto surfaces like tables, chairs, cups, plates, utensils, doorknobs, light switches, faucets, appliance buttons, and clothes. Some researchers have discovered that these droplets are “stable” on surfaces, meaning that the virus can live in them between several hours to three whole days. Because of this, scientists are studying whether people have fallen ill by touching contaminated objects, and then touching their face (CDC says they haven’t, but COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving virus so this may change).
Like everybody, I’m worried by how quickly COVID-19 seems to spread; in fact, the World Health Organization shares that of the reported 6.1 million COVID-19 cases around 370,00 have died (at the time of writing). I took inspiration from Vietnam, a country where people have been exceptional in applying many of the above measures and incorporating them in the catchy English-language “Gian Co Vy” music video, in keeping my household free from the virus. Let me share some tips below:
- Wash your hands all the time, particularly before cooking, before and after meals. Remember to wash for 20 seconds. It should also be ingrained as an essential activity to be done after using the bathroom, as well as before and after cleaning any immediate surroundings.
- If you have one non-dominant hand (meaning, the hand that does not get used for writing and touching most things), use that hand to touch any surface except your face. If you can afford to, protect your hands with disposable gloves when touching multiple surfaces.
- When coughing or sneezing without tissues handy, do so into your elbow instead of into your hand. Also, use your elbow when pushing things around. These take practice, but they will help in slowing down the spread of the COVID-19 virus because in both cases, you are cutting off the possibility of acquiring the sickness via touch.
- Wipe every surface you use before touching it, before leaving your workspace, and before going to bed. Include points of contact like light switches, stoves, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, and even your computer.
- If you must go around, and especially if you have to work outside of the house, bring your own pens, tissues, hand sanitizers or disinfectants. If you manage to find small bottles of rubbing alcohol or sanitizing wipes, get enough to last you a month. Make sure to wipe your bag and everything in it.
- If your daily activities include being around a lot of people, or if you need to go outdoors during allergy season, use a face covering or cloth face mask. While it may not be necessary, some research has implied that it can reduce the risk of getting infected by airborne diseases.
- When greeting those you hold dear, use the elbow bump! Colleagues and acquaintances can be acknowledged from afar using nods or waves. Show respect to seniors and authority figures through a bow, especially when done with both palms together on the chest.
- When shopping for food, medicine and other essential goods, see if you can arrange for curbside pick-up or delivery to your doorstep. Whenever possible, rinse the groceries with water once you bring them inside, and wipe the grocery bags as well. Dry everything with a clean rag or paper towel.
- If possible, do all banking and shopping online. It is easier to connect your bank account or your credit card through payment options like Paypal, Venmo, Apple Pay and Google Pay, which have phone apps that can be accessed by store cashiers. Avoid touching bills or ATM buttons.
- Upon returning home, leave your shoes at the door, put on slippers, and change from your outfit into clean, comfortable clothing. If you can afford to do so, take a bath between changing clothes. Wash your clothes from outside thoroughly; using a sanitizing laundry detergent would be ideal.
In these unusual times, every step counts toward staying healthy! Given that no known vaccine, antiviral drug, or treatment is available to prevent or reverse the effects of COVID-19, our actions can help reduce the spread.
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