Guidelines to Follow When Stepping Out In The Times of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus induced COVID-19 was declared as a Pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. As of this writing, 4,098,018 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 283,271 deaths, have been reported worldwide. The world has entered into uncharted territories as it wages war against a microscopic organism that has shaken the world population, and is bound to change the global economy, healthcare, lifestyle and social structure like never before. With social distancing and isolation as the new normal, the trivial act of stepping out will require a lot more effort than usual.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly identified coronavirus. The disease spreads when the virus is transmitted by getting in contact with an infected individual’s oral and nasal secretions (coughs, and sneezes). The disease is manifested in the form of mild to severe respiratory illness and only a small percentage of affected individuals require intensive care. The best way to contain the spread of the virus is to reduce its transmission rates. In a bid to curb the spread of the virus which was accompanied by an increased inflow of patients; one-third of the world population is living under some sort of quarantine or lockdown. The citizens have been advised to take heed of the guidance provided by national and international authorities. According to the recommendations of WHO, social distancing, physical isolation, and proper hygiene form the foundation of the preventive strategy against COVID-19.
The stringent measures adopted by various national and international governments have successfully helped flatten the curve in countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, Finland, and New Zealand to name a few. Several other countries are still grappling with high infection and mortality rates while a major chunk of the world population is under a mandatory quarantine as you read this article. However, given the surge in the number of confirmed cases, there might not be a tapering off of the disease anytime soon.
Do’s And Don’ts While Stepping Out During COVID-19
Bearing in mind the overwhelming increase in the number of confirmed cases; a threat of potential infection is bound to loom large on people until a treatment method is discovered. While several disease control strategies have been enforced globally, it is also the individual responsibility of citizens to limit their outdoor interactions to a bare minimum to avoid contracting the disease knowingly or unknowingly.
Citizens and government both need to be proactive in their efforts to break the chain of transmission. A collective effort by citizens, accompanied by preventive strategies and policies by the government is required to limit the spread of the disease.
While the current lockdown and stringent stay-at-home directives would require you to stay put within the safety of your homes, you cannot avoid going out for groceries, medicines, and other essentials required to keep you going in while you stay homebound. This implies that you are knowingly or unknowingly bound to get in touch with surfaces or people who might be harboring the infection. Hence, it is essential to stay well informed to make mindful decisions when stepping out as the world battles with the coronavirus.
Let’s take a look at the self-care measures to be adopted to stave off the risk of a coronavirus infection when stepping out:
1. Ask Yourself If The Trip Is Essential Or Not: This is a Pandemic and you cannot afford to be reckless. Sitting holed up in your house with no end in sight to the quarantine might be a bit stressful, but venturing out for leisure, or exercise is an irresponsible behavior on your part. People must be mindful of their actions and their perception towards the disease not to mention its novel and uncertain nature.
Note: Individuals suffering from a health disorder, those with an immunocompromised system, pregnant females, infants, and the elderly must refrain from going outdoors.
2. Avoid Going Out In Crowded Places: In case you cannot avoid going out, try to step out during odd hours while practicing social distancing. Staying in is a favor that you can do yourself in these testing times. Instead, if possible, try to get your essentials delivered at your doorstep by online facilities. The delivery man will drop the order at your door and you can later pick it up, discard the packaging, wash your hands, disinfect the stuff and use it later. This will minimize interactions and help you stay inside the safety of your four walls.
- Set aside a slipper for your outdoor movements.
- Wear a Mask: A mask is a protective aid to keep your mouth and nasal passages covered. It will act as a shield and prevent the inflow of the virus into your system.
- Avoid touching things unnecessarily.
- Carry a small sanitizer (containing 70% alcohol) with you and use it whenever you touch something that might be carrying the virus.
3. Maintain a Distance of Six Feet: One cannot stress enough on the importance of staying 6 feet apart from one another as we fight against this invisible virus. Try to maintain a distance from fellow shoppers and shopkeepers when visiting the market.
4. Avoid Touching Surfaces Directly: Wear gloves when stepping out to avoid coming in direct contact with a possibly infected surface.
- Virus particles are known to survive on doorknobs, tabletops, handles, even clothes for several hours. Do not touch such objects when moving outdoors.
- Make sure to stand in a queue conforming to the 6 feet apart norm of social distancing when buying groceries, or collecting cash from the ATM. Sanitize your hands and debit card after usage.
- If possible, try to adopt the digital transaction methods to avoid fomite transmission through currency notes.
- Avoid using a lift or touching the handles of a staircase when stepping outdoors.
- Properly discard the used gloves.
5. Sanitize, and Disinfect: The importance of sanitization and disinfection cannot be undermined in the wake of an infectious disease. Germs can be anywhere and everywhere, and hence, it is important to sanitize and disinfect as much as possible. As soon as you reach your home, get started with the procedure to sanitize and disinfect everything that you have right then. This includes everything from your spectacles to your shoes and even your bag and your cap. Don’t touch the door of your house, call a family member to open the gate.
- First and foremost, wash your hands with soap for about 20 seconds without fail.
- Remove your slippers or shoes, and bag right outside in a dedicated place and preferably wash them with detergent or disinfect them with a disinfectant such as Lysol.
- Soak the clothes you were wearing in hot water and wash them with a detergent separately.
- Disinfect your spectacles, phone, wallet, or anything that you might have taken outside.
- Discard all the packaging and wash your hands or sanitize them with an alcohol-based rub.
- You can also take a shower if you feel like.
- Make sure to clean your hands after touching any packaged commodity.
While you might not be able to disinfect each and everything, you can try to minimize the risk by adopting simple practices while stepping out. Do not panic, try to stay calm; you aren’t alone in this.
The dearth of information and understanding, the infectious nature of the virus, and lack of preparedness for the Pandemic were factors that contributed to this disease emerging as a Pandemic acquiring massive proportions and leading to grievous consequences. With no definitive cure for the disease and the research for vaccine development underway; COVID-19 is a disease that we will have to learn to live with for some time.
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