How do you protect yourself from COVID-19? The Coronavirus disease COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory illness that can spread from person to person very quickly. There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), so the best way to prevent illness, according to the health experts, is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The Ghana Health Service announced the first two (2) infections recorded in the country on March 12, 2019, and as at Thursday April 16, barely five weeks later 641 persons have tested positive for COVID-19 with 83 recovered and 8 deaths.
How it Spreads
Scientists and health experts studying the novel coronavirus, believe it is spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). The virus spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. You have to take steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 infections.
Things You should Do
The World Health Organisation and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States, and the Ministry of Health (Ghana) provide guidelines how individuals can protect themselves and prevent infections.
1. Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and clean water, preferably under running water. You may thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when clean water and soap are not readily available.
Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
2. Maintain social distancing or Avoid close contact
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, and avoid close contact with anyone who is sick, coughing or sneezing. When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
3. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
The virus that causes COVID-19 can stick to your hands when you touch stuff like door handles, surfaces, etc. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
4. Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
5. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. For this reason, it is advised that everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store, the market, pharmacy or to pick up other necessities.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Remember that the cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others even when you are wearing a face cloth or mask. But remember that the cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
6. Seek medical care early if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call, in advance, the emergency contact numbers provided by the health authority, and follow the directions you may be given. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility.
7. Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider
Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. And they are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
You will protect yourself and help prevent spread of COVID-19, viruses and other infections when you follow the preventive guidelines. Stay safe and healthy.