Hoarding won’t help, but washing your hands will

Is it really as simple as washing your hands? Well, sort of. The coronavirus pandemic has had a global impact within a matter of months—people have been in a panic: hoarding goods, going into lockdown, and cancelling some of the world’s biggest events. But while the virus has been affecting nearly all aspects of ordinary life, it seems that what we are recommended to do is simple enough. 

(Related: Pamper Your Hands with These Nourishing and Aromatic Hand Soaps)

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1. Wash your hands

It’s something children all around the globe are taught from the very beginning: wash your hands. But a simple flick of the wrist under a stream of water won’t do. Wash your hands with soap and wash it for at least 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” or your “ABC’s”). 

According to researchers from The University of Texas, the coronavirus is surrounded by and protected with a wall of protein (which is also what allows it to enter human cells). What soap does is it helps break down this wall of fat and protein to essentially dismantle the virus particle. But this chemical process needs time to take place, which is why it is recommended to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Virus particles can also get in between folds of skin so always make sure to get the palms, in between fingers, and under the nails. 

Most soaps will be effective in dismantling the coronavirus, but feel free to use antibacterial soaps should you so wish. Within the Covid-19 outbreak context, please be mindful to wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Other times include: after visiting a public place, after touching surfaces outside your home (including money), before and after caring for a sick person, after using the toilet, and after handling garbage. 

It is also important to remember that while hand sanitisers and alcohol are also effective in dismantling the virus on our hands, these must be at least 60 per cent alcohol-based and must be used in conjunction with the 20-second rule. 

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Above (Image: Ellieelien/Unsplash)

2. Avoid crowds and stay at home

By now, the world is only beginning to understand how the novel coronavirus works, but one thing is quite certain: it seems to be highly contagious. Understanding why it is necessary to avoid crowds begins with understanding how the virus is spread. While there is ongoing research about that, what most scientists believe is this: that Covid-19 is spread through droplets produced when one coughs or sneezes. These droplets then fall onto surfaces, which other people touch and which proves why it is important to wash your hands. 

The second way it is spread is if someone nearby coughs or sneezes and micro-droplets then land onto someone’s face: their eyes, their nose, or their mouth. As such, it is important to stay at least six feet away from any person coughing or sneezing. Masks may be worn, but it is important to prioritise that sick people and frontline workers have access to masks. It is not as important for healthy people to wear masks unless they are in a crowded setting. 

While social distancing may be uncomfortable for some people, know that it is essential in flattening the curve (to slow down the rate of infection over time so as not to overwhelm the healthcare system) and preventing the disease to be spread to more vulnerable people. Something as simple as staying home when you can save lives and if all it takes is to watch some Netflix to make sure someone’s grandma is safe, then why not? 

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Above (Image: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash)

3. Disinfect surfaces

Because the virus spreads so quickly, it is important to disinfect commonly touched surfaces. These include your cell phone, telephones, door knobs, and the like. Most disinfectants will work, but the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends diluting bleach with water or using 70% alcohol solutions. 

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Above (Image: Tore F/Unsplash)

4. Do not panic

Easier said than done, we know. While many people understand how important it is to keep yourself physically safe during this time, it’s also important to keep yourself mentally secure. Nothing good happens out of panic—certainly not panic buying or hoarding. We have to understand that our health rests in the hands of every single person who has the capacity of being a carrier without even knowing it. Therefore, no amount of alcohol, soap, or disinfectant can protect you if your neighbours—or more importantly, our frontline workers—have no access to protect themselves. Do not panic buy. 

People who have anxiety disorders may also experience psychosomatic symptoms during times of pandemic. Meaning, people may experience symptoms without actually having the virus. Remember that plenty of symptoms can be triggered by panic attacks or anxiety—shortness of breath, hot and cold flashes, and sometimes even cough. 

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Above (Image: Anna Pelzer/Unsplash)

5. Eat healthy

Just to keep your immune system up, don’t forget to eat a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, and protein. Vitamin C tablets are also an option. Get an adequate amount of sleep and drink plenty of water. If possible, exercise at home or meditate. 

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