Covid-19 Coronavirus Prevention
Infographic by the United States CDC, describing how to stop the spread of germs.
Eight do’s and don’ts during the COVID-19 pandemic
Strategies for preventing transmission of the disease include overall good personal hygiene, hand washing, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, coughing/sneezing into a tissue and putting the tissue directly into a dustbin. Those who may already have the infection have been advised to wear a surgical mask in public. Social distancing measures are also recommended to prevent transmission.
Many governments have restricted or advised against all non-essential travel to and from countries and areas affected by the outbreak. However, the virus has reached the stage of community spread in large parts of the world. This means that the virus is spreading within communities whose members have not travelled to areas with widespread transmission.
Contact tracing is an important method for health authorities to determine the source of an infection and to prevent further transmission. Misconceptions are circulating about how to prevent infection, for example: rinsing the nose and gargling with mouthwash are not effective. As of 23 March 2020, there is no COVID-19 vaccine, though a number of organizations are working to develop one.
Main article: Hand washing
Hand washing is recommended to prevent the spread of the disease. The CDC recommends that people wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the toilet or when hands are visibly dirty; before eating; and after blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing. It further recommended using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol by volume when soap and water are not readily available. However, in some other countries, like Lebanon, they recommended a hand wash for at least 30 seconds while avoiding using alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The WHO advises people to avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Health organizations recommended that people cover their mouth and nose with a bent elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing (the tissue should then be disposed of immediately). Surgical masks are recommended for those who may be infected, as wearing a mask can limit the volume and travel distance of expiratory droplets dispersed when talking, sneezing and coughing. The WHO has issued instructions on when and how to use masks.
Masks have also been recommended for use by those taking care of someone who may have the disease. WHO has recommended the wearing of masks by healthy people only if they are at high risk, such as those who are caring for a person with COVID-19, although masks may help people avoid touching their faces.
China has specifically recommended the use of disposable medical masks by healthy members of the public. Hong Kong recommends wearing a surgical mask when taking public transport or staying in crowded places. Thailand’s health officials are encouraging people to make face masks at home out of cloth and wash them daily. The Czech Republic banned going out in public without wearing a mask or covering one’s nose and mouth. Face masks have also been widely used by healthy people in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Physical distancing (also commonly referred to as social distancing) includes infection control actions intended to slow the spread of disease by minimizing close contact between individuals. Methods include quarantines; travel restrictions; and the closing of schools, workplaces, stadiums, theatres, or shopping centres. Individuals may apply physical distancing methods by staying at home, limiting travel, avoiding crowded areas, using no-contact greetings, and physically distancing themselves from others. Many governments are now mandating or recommending physical distancing in regions affected by the outbreak. Allowed gathering size was swiftly reducing from 250 people (if there was no known COVID-19 spread in a region) to 50 people, and later to 10 people. On 22 March 2020, Germany banned public gatherings of more than two people.
Older adults and those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, hypertension, and compromised immune systems face increased risk of serious illness and complications and have been advised by the US CDC to stay home as much as possible in areas of community outbreak.
In late March 2020, the WHO and other health bodies began to replace the use of the term “social distancing” with “physical distancing”, to clarify that the aim is to reduce physical contact, while maintaining social connections, either virtually or at a distance. The use of the term “social distancing” had led to implications that people should engage in complete social isolation, rather than encouraging them to stay in contact with others via alternative means.
- Physical distancing at a London pharmacy on 23 March 2020
- Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen demonstrates physical distancing by using the traditional fist-and-palm salute instead of shaking hands in response to the pandemic.
- Why Social Distancing Matters? A look at the Math behind Social Distancing amid Coronavirus.
Transmission of COVID depends on many factors, and the basic reproduction number can be lowered by engaging in outbreak prevention measures such as physical distancing and self-isolation upon experiencing symptoms.
Self-isolation at home has been recommended for those diagnosed with COVID-19 and those who suspect they have been infected. Health agencies have issued detailed instructions for proper self-isolation.
Additionally, many governments have mandated or recommended self-quarantine for entire populations living in affected areas. The strongest self-quarantine instructions have been issued to those in high risk groups. Those who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and those who have recently travelled to a country with widespread transmission have been advised to self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of last possible exposure.