The only topic of discussion lately seems to be that of the Coronavirus disease, and perhaps rightly so. With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring it as a global pandemic, it is a looming concern that we should be informed about and take necessary precautions to eradicate.
So, what is this virus that has made us pause in our fast-paced lives? The Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses of which the COVID-19 is a strain that started infecting humans in 2019. Even though its first traces were allegedly only in Wuhan, China, it has now expanded exponentially to a global scale, where citizens of countries like Italy, Iran, and South Korea are severely infected. The WHO reported, as of 11th March ‘20, that 114 countries have been infected with more than 118,000 cases, and the death count has risen to 4,291.
With countries on lockdown, travel bans, and thousands quarantined, Covid -19 has already created much disarray. The onus is now on each one of us to act as responsible citizens of the world and put an end to the spread of this virus. Here are a few things we can do to ensure our safety and that of those around us -
Avoid unnecessary contact.
Since this virus is contagious upon contact, it is imperative to avoid crowds. On a large scale, events like the NBA and IPL have been cancelled or rescheduled to prevent large gatherings, and on a smaller scale, schools and workplaces are also being closed temporarily. Maintain distance between people you must meet, avoid hugging, handshaking and sharing of food and clothes. Use alone-time indoors to self-reflect, write a journal, catch up on your reading list, exercise your creative juices and do all the things you’ve wanted to but felt like you’ve never had the time to.
Focus on building a strong immune system.
Enjoy a diet high in fruits and vegetables especially those that are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. Remove all processed sugar from your diet as it is claimed to be food for the virus, and instead include oranges, lemons, kiwis, blueberries, spinach, ginger, garlic, broccoli and dark chocolate (yes, an antioxidant called theobromine in dark chocolate helps boost the immune system) in your diet. Go for a run outdoors to your local park, building terrace or garden instead of working out in a gym. Last but not the least, speak to your local doctor or health advisor to include immunity-boosting supplements to your diet.
Maintain an extra level of hygiene.
When we step out due to unavoidable reasons, we should avoid touching too many surfaces as the virus can live for a long time on materials like metal and plastic. It’s also important to not touch your face often as the virus can infect humans when in contact with the mouth, nose, or eyes. Disinfect your hands with a sanitizer, and wash them regularly and thoroughly.
Refrain from traveling.
Travel has been a big reason behind the spread of coronavirus across countries. Airports have proven to be festering hubs for the contagion and so we must avoid unnecessary travel completely. Recreational, business, and other non-essential travel plans should not be prioritized over people’s health. In addition to long-distance plane, ship and train travel, one must also regulate short-distance travel via public transport and shared cabs. It is important to remember that the virus is virulent during its incubation period of 14-24 days when it may not show signs or symptoms at all.
Self - quarantine and get tested immediately if any symptoms show up.
We owe it to those around us to self-quarantine immediately if we experience any symptoms of the virus, the most common of which are fever, sore throat, dry coughing, and shortness of breath. We must then inform our local hospital and follow the protocol for testing as per their advice. The virus is particularly harmful to people above the age of 50 and those with weaker immune systems. We must act responsibly to ensure that we aren’t harming others even if we belong to a lower risk bracket.
Do not panic. Most importantly, maintain composure during this difficult time and know that panic spreads faster than the virus itself. Instead of believing and forwarding information on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, we must rely on trustworthy news channels, the WHO, UN, and individual country government websites. Lastly, instead of hoarding and overstocking toilet paper, hand sanitizers, soaps, etc. in fear of its future scarcity share the resources fairly with your neighbours. Know that the world will sink or swim collectively.