It has been more than a year since COVID-19 made the newspaper headlines and the top stories in almost every news channel in the world. At the time of writing this blog, there have been over 129 million registered cases of COVID-19 with 2.8 million deaths. Even though the vaccine is now available in most countries, it will be a mistake to think that the pandemic is over.
While most education institutes continue to operate online, theatres, public transportation systems, factories, and offices have now started to operate normally with some safety measures. In such a situation, if you want to keep yourself safe from the COVID-19 infection in 2021, you need to follow some strict measures.
- Learn how the virus spreads:
It is important to note that scientists are still studying the new strain of coronavirus that is causing COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this highly contagious virus appears to be most commonly spread during person-to-person contact (within 6 feet) through respiratory droplets. While the respiratory droplets of an infected person can transmit the virus to a nearby person when he/she coughs or sneezes, direct physical contact (such as handshakes) with an infected person can also cause the transmission.
Coronavirus can also spread through contaminated surfaces, but the chances of virus transmission from such surfaces are very low. However, if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your own mouth, nose or eyes, it can cause the transmission. Also, the virus can spread by airborne transmission, as the virus can linger in the air for minutes to hours within the respiratory droplets released by an infected person. It means you can still get infected even if you are not within 6 feet distance of the infected person or the person left the space minutes ago.
- Maintaining a physical distance from others:
Now that you know how the virus spreads, you must realize how important it is to practice social distancing almost all the time. Since direct contact with an infected person remains the most common way of coronavirus transmission, maintaining a gap of at least 6 feet from others is the best possible way to mitigate the spread.
Also, studies show that an outdoor setting with enough space and proper ventilation reduces the risk of exposure. A person is more likely to catch the virus indoors than he/she would do outdoors, given that he/she practices social distancing all the time. However, you should not be encouraged to attend concerts or live sports at a stadium just because they are considered outdoors. You can go to a park for a walk while maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from everyone. Also, it is wiser to avoid huge crowds as the chances of the virus spread are higher in those places.
- Wash your hands:
Social distancing will certainly reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission significantly. However, that is not enough. As mentioned, you can still catch the virus if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes. To eliminate the risk of coronavirus spread through the contaminated surface, you need to wash your hands often with soap and water, that too, for at least 20 seconds.
It is important to wash your hand –
- Before you eat or prepare food
- Before you need to touch your face
- After using the bathroom
- After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing
- After leaving a public place
- After handling your mask
- After taking care of a sick person
- After changing diaper
- After touching an animal or pets
If soap and water are not readily available at your disposal, you should use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. Cover the entire surfaces of your hands with the sanitizer and rub them together until they seem to dry up. If your hands are unwashed, do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
Besides washing your hands regularly, you should also consider disinfecting the frequently touched surfaces daily. That includes tables, light switches, doorknobs, phones, keyboards, toilets, countertops, sinks, etc.
- Wear a mask:
Wearing a mask most of the time has now become a norm during this pandemic. This measure can protect yourself and others from contracting COVID-19. You should definitely wear a mask in public settings and make sure that the mask covers your mouth and nose properly. Since a lot of people with the infection are asymptomatic, you will never know from whom you get the virus. So, while you practice social distancing, wear a mask to reduce the risk.
The masks will offer a barrier between your airway and the outside wall. By wearing it, you will keep your mouth and nose covered and trap your own droplets in the mask. Also, it will reduce the risk of getting sick through infected droplets by blocking access to your own airways.
- Limit your travel:
Travelling does increase the risk of contracting the disease. The CDC instructs the citizens to avoid non-essential travel to a number of international destinations during this COVID situation. Also, the authority urges people to weigh the risks while considering travelling to a domestic destination. You are safer at your home, and unless it is absolutely necessary, do not travel to other places.
People with underlying medical conditions and old people are suggested not to travel during the pandemic as they are more vulnerable to this virus. If you must travel, it is wiser to take all the possible safety measures and consider a safer mode of transportation where you can avoid crowding. Also, you need to educate yourself about the restrictions at the place you are travelling to. You may need to keep yourself in quarantine once you reach the destination.
- Look for symptoms:
Even after performing all these aforementioned measures, there is the slightest chance that you may contract the disease. So, you need to look for the symptoms of infection for COVID-19. In this context, it is important to mention that the symptoms of this disease are quite similar to those of other respiratory virus infections, including influenza. So, if you have the following symptoms, there are chances that it may not be COVID-19. But still, you should watch for these symptoms:
- Fever or chills
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Body aches
- New loss of taste and/or smell
- Sore throat
- Runny nose or congestion
- Vomiting or nausea
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should get yourself tested by a proper diagnostic or health center. Also, when you develop such symptoms, it is important that you isolate yourself in a room and take all the other necessary measures mentioned above.
In the last 100 years, no one has seen a global crisis like this, which explains why the governments as well as international organizations such as WHO are still struggling to put an end to this pandemic. While the countries have started vaccination drives in most areas, it is up to us, the common people, to use our common sense to restrict the spread of coronavirus to the best of our ability.
Author bio: Clara Smith is a biology teacher at a high school in Texas, US. She is also associated with the team of experts at Allessaywriter.com, where she offers homework help to students. She has also received his PhD in the field from a reputed university in the country.