A terrible tragedy has befallen the world. The deadly coronavirus known as the COVID-19 has wreaked havoc and many have lost their lives fighting this disease. It is extremely important to understand the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it in order to be able to be better equipped to deal with the pandemic.

What is the coronavirus?

Coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new virus. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. The disease causes a respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and difficulty in breathing (much similar to the feeling of drowning).

Who is at a risk?

While anyone can be infected by the virus after coming into contact with it, some are at a greater risk including older people and those with a weakened immune system. People infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Also, older people who already have health issues such as diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. At this particular time, there is no such treatment or vaccines for this virus, but a lot of health clinics are doing trials and are finding a way to cure this disease.

How to protect yourself from the virus?
Take care of your hygiene

Good hygiene habits are extremely important in present times. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, sanitizing your hands with an alcohol-based rub, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding close contact with people who are unwell.

Make sure to cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue appropriately. Wear face masks to limit the chances of transmittal of the virus. However, masks are only helpful if they are used in the combination of washing hands with soap and water and sanitizing hands properly. Avoid touching surfaces of all sorts and wash hands immediately afterward.

Boost your immunity

One of the most important steps to take during this outbreak is to improve your immunity to be able to fight of the disease. The best way to protect yourself is simple healthy habits like sleeping enough, exercising, eating well, and finding good ways to reduce stress. To support your immune system, consuming immunity-boosting foods like citrus fruits, garlic, broccoli, and spinach will be extremely beneficial. Taking vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, and Zinc are other effective ways. Herbal teas such as chamomile tea and green tea can also help improve immunity as they are packed with strong antioxidants that help fight off diseases.

Social distancing

Social distancing means avoiding crowded places and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet, or two meters at all times. It is very important for people to avoid contact with others and maintain a distance to be safe from the virus. This includes canceling events that are likely to draw crowds like concerts and congregational prayers. One should also try to avoid visiting friends and family as much as possible and try to stay in touch via FaceTime or Whatsapp.  Other social distancing measures taken by the government in many countries include working from home instead of at the office, closing down of schools or switching to online classes. It is important to follow the government’s directives during these tough times to stay safe.

Say no to hoarding

With the outbreak, people went crazy with hoarding huge amounts of food items and toiletries. Many people suffered because of this including mothers of newborns who faced a shortage of formula milk for their babies and the elderly and daily/monthly wage laborers. While it is natural to feel fear due to the possible shortage of food and other essential items, it is important to avoid hoarding. Keeping a stock of all the necessary stuff is advisable but buying in bulk only further worsens the situation as it creates difficulty for the elderly or people who have monthly incomes and cannot afford to buy in large amounts. If everyone continues their buying as normal, shortages can be avoided and no one will have to go without the essentials.

Help others

Now is the best time to be charitable as people need help more than ever. Donate medical supplies to hospitals that are facing huge shortages of masks, gloves, gowns and surgical equipment given the large amount of incoming patients. Start a food drive and deliver meals to the needy such as those over 60 who are at greater risk and are staying home with little or no food supplies. Lastly, donate blood if you can. Low donor participation could possibly harm availability at hospitals, creating another crisis. Many hospitals are offering at-home blood donation facility which donors can make use of.

Following the above-mentioned steps will hopefully minimize the crisis. Here’s to hoping that this difficult time passes quickly and that we can return to our normal lives soon. But till that happens, it is important to stay as safe as possible making sure we are playing our part in helping others and controlling this pandemic from worsening. Stay safe.

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