COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus, which has not been previously identified in humans. In most cases, COVID-19 causes mild symptoms including dry cough, tiredness and fever, though fever may not be a symptom for some older people. Other mild symptoms include aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and has difficulty breathing.
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.
Older people, and people of all ages with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, or cancer) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
To prevent infection, there are a five things that you can do.
1. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water and dry them thoroughly: You can also use alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty and if this product is available. Cleaning your hands frequently will remove the virus if it is on your hands. If an alcohol-based hand rub or soap is not available, then using chlorinated water (0.05%) for hand washing is an option, but it is not ideal because frequent use may irritate your skin.
2. Cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when coughing and sneezing: And remember to throw away the used tissue immediately in a bin with a lid and to wash your hands. This way you protect others from any virus released through coughs and sneezes.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth: Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.
4. Keep physical distance from others: If your national or local authorities have put in place confinement measures, it is important to respect them. Taking exercise outside is good for your physical and mental health, but should only be undertaken if regulations for your area allow it. When you do go out, avoid crowded spaces and maintain at least 1 metre distance (3 feet or arms-length) from others. Avoid unnecessary visits to your house. If visits are necessary (e.g. caregiver to support with activities of daily living), ask your visitor to regularly check for symptoms to ensure that they are symptom free when visiting you. Ask them to also follow these five key actions, including washing their hands when they first enter your home.
5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces every day: This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, taps, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Check local advice where you live and work. Do it all!
WHAT TO DO TO KEEP YOURSELF AND OTHERS SAFE FROM COVID-19
· Maintain at least a 1-metre distance between yourself and others to reduce your risk of infection when they cough, sneeze or speak. Maintain an even greater distance between yourself and others when indoors. The further away, the better.
· Make wearing a mask a normal part of being around other people. The appropriate use, storage and cleaning or disposal are essential to make masks as effective as possible.
HERE ARE THE BASICS OF HOW TO WEAR A MASK:
· Clean your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off, and after you touch it at any time.
· Make sure it covers both your nose, mouth and chin.
· When you take off a mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it’s a fabric mask, or dispose of a medical mask in a trash bin.
· Don’t use masks with valves.
DON’T FORGET THE BASICS OF GOOD HYGIENE
· Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. This eliminates germs including viruses that may be on your hands.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and infect you.
· Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately into a closed bin and wash your hands. By following good ‘respiratory hygiene’, you protect the people around you from viruses, which cause colds, flu and COVID-19.
· Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently especially those which are regularly touched, such as door handles, faucets and phone screens.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL UNWELL
· Know the full range of symptoms of COVID-19. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes, diarrhoea, or a skin rash.
· Stay home and self-isolate even if you have minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Call your health care provider or hotline for advice. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house or have someone near you, wear a medical mask to avoid infecting others.
· If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Call by telephone first, if you can and follow the directions of your local health authority.
· Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities. Local and national authorities and public health units are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
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