Published by SchoolAdvisor on Feb 12, 2020, 12:54 PM
Earlier this February The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an ongoing contagious viral infection as a global emergency. The "COVID-19" virus, earlier known as novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) originated from Wuhan, China, and is very similar to the MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome). It has alarmed many people across the globe and has also spread and infected 18 Malaysian citizens as of today. It is not the only virus that is lurking around as the common influenza season is also here.
Parents with children are taking precautionary steps, but are these steps enough to prevent the virus from spreading? SchoolAdvisor Team is concerned with this outbreak too and hence, here we have listed ways that can help you protect yourself and your loved ones from this deadly virus.
Wear A Mask
The N95 respirator is the best choice for a mask because it blocks almost 95% of tiny particles from entering your respiratory system, however, they are only effective when worn the right way. Do note that the N95 masks are tight and it can get hot and stuffy when wearing for a prolonged period of time. A lot of people take it off because of this but given how contagious this virus or even normal flu is, taking off the mask when outdoors, especially in crowded areas, will be a very costly mistake.
Surgical masks have three-ply/filters that stop microbes from entering and exiting the mask. Although surgical masks do not really prevent the airborne virus, it might still be useful in controlling its spread since airborne transmission of coronavirus is yet to be confirmed. The biggest problem with surgical masks is that the longer you wear one, the less effective it becomes, especially if it gets damp from your breath. Hence make sure to discard the masks after a day of use (single use).
If you don't have access to an N95 mask or a surgical face mask because most pharmacies in Malaysia ate already out of stocks, wrapping a scarf or other cotton fibre around nose and mouth can also suffice in a crowded area.
Wash Hands Frequently
Masks are surely helpful in preventing viral infections, but frequent hand washing is crucial too. Children especially, like to touch around while playing at daycares and schools so washing their hands frequently and thoroughly will keep infections at bay. Wash your hands, and teach your children to do the same, often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, if you cannot keep track of time one easy way is to count with your child till 20 or sing the Happy Birthday song twice. Make sure to wash hands before eating, after sneezing, using the toilet or touching visibly or physically dirty objects such as toys, shoes and public toilet doors. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands at all times.
If soap and water are unavailable, parents can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in it. However, make sure to wash with soap and water as soon as possible because hand sanitizers are not as effective. And always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Besides using alcohol hand sanitizer, you can also use alcohol wipes to clean/disinfect toys, stationaries, toilet and other objects or surfaces that you frequently touch.
Avoid Contact With Sick People
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of this novel coronavirus include fever, flu, cough and shortness of breath. However infected people can vary from being asymptomatic - showing no symptoms at all - to being symptomatic (visibly sick) and dying. Symptoms usually take between 2-14 days to appear but even during this time, the infected is able to infect others. So, avoid contact with people who show flu symptoms and wash your hands every single time before touching your face, as your life depends on it because it does!
Stay Home If Sick
If you are sick, avoid going out in public or social mingling as it might not only make you much sicker, you will get others sick as well. Even if it is not coronavirus and just a normal cold, it is best to avoid going out for a while and focus on recovery instead.
If you must go out, remember to wear a mask and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Also, be sure to dispose of the tissue paper into the rubbish bin or wash your handkerchief thoroughly after use and wash your hands too.
Taking care of your health will reduce the chances of infection as the virus will be fought off by our bodies very own defence mechanism – our immune system. Taking vitamin C regularly also helps as virus can’t survive in an environment that is high in Vitamin C. Having said that, please avoid unnecessary intake or overdosing on course of antibiotics and vitamins because it will cause more harm than good. It is important that you seek doctors’ advice on which supplements to take and the necessary amount needed to help boost your immune system.
The bottom line is to make sure to stay clean, maintain hygiene and be careful in public places. The hygiene practices that are advised here are not only effective in preventing COVID-19 but other common viruses/infections as well. We hope everyone stays safe and sound during this virus outbreak and our prayers go out to everyone infected. We wish them a speedy recovery.
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