We face the threat of a fast-spreading infection from the novel coronavirus, the coronavirus disease 2019, better known as COVID-19. It is natural for you to want information to protect and prepare yourself for a possible COVID-19 infection. Here, we will discuss some important aspects you need to know about the COVID-19 infection so that you can look after yourself and your dear ones.
When to visit the doctor?
You may need to go the doctor for a suspected COVID-19 infection if you have:
- Symptoms of COVID-19 such as shortness of breath, fever and cough
- Travelled to an area/country affected by COVID-19 in the past 14 days
- Been in close contact (within 6 feet) with a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period
How to assess myself for a possible COVID-19 infection?
You should monitor yourself for 14 days upon arrival from an affected country or after contact with an infected person for symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough, fever and difficulty breathing.[3,4] Avoid large crowds and visiting at-risk individuals during the self-monitoring period.
At-risk individuals include those who:
- Are over 60 years old
- Suffer from chronic conditions (lung disease, diabetes, etc.)
- Have conditions that weakens the immune system
However, if you feel you have developed symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor for advice before visiting. In addition, you should:
- Avoid going out of your home, except for medical reasons
- Isolate yourself from other family members in your home
- Do not share utensils, towels or other household items with family members
- Cover your nose and mouth with a towel/tissue while sneezing or coughing
- Wash hands regularly
- Clean the surfaces at your home that you touch regularly (tabletops, toilets, counters, doorknobs, etc.) and your phone
- Wear a facemask
There are a few things you need to know about proper wearing, removal and disposal of a mask.
How to wear a face mask?
You must follow the product instructions (available with the mask) on storage, disposal and how to put on and remove the mask. If the instructions are not available with the mask, you can consider the following instructions provided by the World Health Organization (WHO):
- Wash your hands before wearing the mask
- Put on the mask such that it covers your nose and mouth, and there is no gap between your face and the mask
- Do not touch the front of the mask while using it; if you do, wash your hands immediately
- Remove the mask once it gets damp and replace it with a new one; avoid reusing single-use disposable masks
- The masks should always be removed from behind and disposed of in a closed bin; wash your hands thereafter
According to WHO, you should always clean your hands with soap and water. However, if soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to thoroughly sanitise your hands.
Masks are effective only when their use is combined with regular hand cleaning. Let us have a look at how you can clean your hands the right way.
How to wash hands the right way?
The World Health Organization recommends the following technique of washing hands to protect yourself from all infections, including COVID-19:
- Wet your hands with water
- Take sufficient amount of soap to cover your hands
- Rub palm to palm
- Rub the fingers of one hand on the back and in between the fingers of the other hand; repeat the other way round
- Keep palm on palm, and rub between the fingers
- Rub the back of the finger of one hand with the palm of the other hand; switch hands and repeat
- Grasp the thumb of one hand with the palm of other hand and rotate; repeat the other way round
- Rub the palm of one hand with the fingertips of another in a clockwise and then anticlockwise motion; repeat the other way round
- Wash off the soap from your hands with water
- Wipe your hands with a single-use tissue/towel
- Turn of the faucet with the tissue/towel
Instead of panicking in times of adversity, we must instead act responsibly to contain the disease and stop its spread. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, keep yourself isolated and contact one of the following helplines:
- Helpline number for coronavirus (India): +91-11-23978046
- Helpline email address for coronavirus: email@example.com
- Helpline number for states and union territories: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/coronavirushelplinenumber.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Situation summary [Internet]. [Updated 2020 Mar 15; cited 2020 Mar 17]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/summary.html.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. What is coronavirus? [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Mar 6]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus.
- NH Division of Public Health Services. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Self quarantine guide [Internet]. [Updated 2020 Mar 8; cited 2020 Mar 17]. Available from: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/self-quarantine-covid.pdf.
- Government of Northwest Territories. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Self monitoring information sheet [Internet]. [Updated 2020 Mar 14; cited 2020 Mar 17]. Available from: https://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/sites/hss/files/resources/covid-19-self-monitoring-handout.pdf.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases [Internet]. [Updated 2020 Mar 16; cited 2020 Mar 17]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html.
- World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks [Internet]. [cited 2020 Mar 17]. Available from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks.
- World Health Organization. Clean hands protect against infection [Internet]. [cited 2020 Mar 6]. Available from: https://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/.