Since the reported outbreak of the coronavirus in December 2019, also known as COVID-19, the virus has now become a global pandemic infecting thousands of people around the world.
Despite many governments implementing strict quarantine rules to help slow the rate of infection, the virus continues to spread. Because it is believed that the coronavirus can sit dormant in a carrier for up to two weeks, each infected individual could spread the virus even before they know they have it.
With the virus still escalating, more people are worried about how they can protect themselves and their family from harm. As this is such a novel virus, experts are still trying to learn more about how it is transmitted, but so far the advice given out to help protect ourselves is proving effective.
How to keep yourself safe:
Wash your hands: By far the most simple yet effective advice to follow is to WASH YOUR HANDS. Although it is often repeated, it does work. Wash your hands often, especially after going to the toilet, and before preparing and eating food.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. Make sure you include the back of your hands and clean under your nails.
Stop touching your face: You have a greater chance of contracting the virus if you touch your face with unwashed hands. Especially avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as these are prime routes for the virus to enter your body.
Avoid mixing with sick people: As the coronavirus is thought to be transmitted through coughs and sneezes, the infected droplets can linger in the air and be breathed in by others. Droplets can also land on surfaces and be spread by touch.
If you want to avoid the virus, stay away from large crowds and social gatherings.
Clean surfaces with a household cleaner: You should regularly clean work surfaces, sinks, light switches, doorknobs and other surfaces that are touched frequently.
Forget the face mask: It isn't worth buying or wearing a face mask as it is unlikely to stop you from catching the virus if you are around someone that has it. Cheap masks or dust masks are incapable of filtering out tiny virus particles.
Avoid unnecessary travel: Travelling on confined train carriages or crowded buses can increase your chances of catching the virus. Anyone with immunocompromised systems should avoid travelling at this time.
Understand the symptoms: Learn the symptoms to look for and if you spot it in yourself or someone else you can then take steps to home isolate yourself or a family member to contain the spread.
Some symptoms of the coronavirus to look out for include headache, a dry cough, sore throat, fever, tiredness and generally not feeling well. Self-isolate at home if you have any of these symptoms and only seek help if your symptoms become more severe.
Severe infections may develop as a result of the virus, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, high fever, severe cough with mucus, shortness of breath, and chest pain or tightness. If your symptoms become severe and very worrying, then call the medical emergency service to report your symptoms.
Catch your cough: Try to catch your cough or sneeze in a tissue or use the crook of your elbow. Throw away the tissue after use and make sure you wash your hands.
How can employers help keep their staff safe
As well as following all the points mentioned above about keeping commonly used services clean, employers should ensure they provide their staff with adequate hand-washing facilities with soap and disposable paper towels.
Employers should encourage good hygiene practices by reminding their staff to wash their hands regularly. Having a timed alarm sounding off at regular intervals can help to remind staff to wash their hands throughout the day while at work.
Work from home where possible: If your staff can work from home, then this should be put into action to help reduce their risk of being exposed to the virus in the community.
For those who need to be at work, a risk assessment should be conducted to identify risks in the workplace for contacting the virus while working. Any workers with a compromised immune system should be allowed to take sick leave to protect themselves at this time.
Home isolate if showing symptoms: Staff should be advised to stay at home and self-isolate if they have symptoms of the coronavirus. In these cases, sick pay should be put in place to cover for lost income and to discourage the staff member from coming to work while sick.
Keep reviewing the guidance: Employers should keep up with the news coming from trusted sources about the situation and follow guidance from their state Department of Health and WHO about managing their staff.
It is extremely important to take note of all the health recommendations being made by the World Health Organization, please follow these guidelines and stay safe.