Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is now coming to terms with a new normal. Cities and countries are adapting their own strategies in dealing with the crisis and adopting precautions that will change our habits and eventually the way we lead our life. Though some measures have been very controversial, the advice of experts and authorities are all directed and focused to preventing the spread of COVID-19 that has affected the lives and the economy in an unprecedented way. Now is the time to be wise and discerning on the articles we read, the products we use and the way we live our lives, not in fear but with careful precautions. Even when the numbers are slowly decreasing and some countries have started easing restrictions we cannot afford to relax and throw caution to the wind.
We have to take necessary precautions. What are the they?
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE IN PUBLIC
Being in quarantine or at home gives us a sense of security as we are by ourselves. But once we get out of the safety of our homes, what should we do to be protected because COVID-19 is easily transmitted.
We all have to go to work and jobs to undertake, places to go, errands to do, people to meet and simply, a life to live and how do we manage this.
Gradually by following the precautionary measures which is globally publicized we will get a sense of what we should do depending on our daily dynamics – transportation, route, type of work, people we work with and many other factors. We all have been told over and over again that social distancing is the key and all the other measures revolve around it.
The following are the general measures we must follow to keep ourselves safe while being outdoors.
- Always follow good and consistent hygiene practices. Although this has been stressed repeatedly people still adopt a lackadaisical attitude and don’t take it seriously. Proper hand washing techniques with soap and not just haphazard washing is extremely important. You have to use a hand sanitizer or a disinfectant which must have a 70% alcohol content. You should avoid touching your face also as it provides easy access for the infection to enter the eyes, nose or mouth.
- Wear a correct mask. It is the most popular contraption in the market now. What was once a protective equipment used only by medical professionals is now everyone’s favorite accessory as it is extremely protective. Wearing a mask has a very direct purpose which is to stop the transmission from one person to another whether the person is a carrier of the virus or not. It is not only protection for yourself but also for protecting others. However, any ordinary mask will not do. You will have to use a mask that has been proven to have appropriate viral protection such as an N95 or surgical grade masks. It is also important to wear it correctly to cover your nose and mouth.
- Avoid crowded places. As COVID-19 is transmitted easily, the more people that are gathered in an area, the higher the risk. Many establishments have now been ordered to adopt new arrangements by governments restricting the number of persons who can congregate together with other conditions. We should avoid crowded restaurants and places, do grocery errands at odd hours when people don’t usually go to supermarkets and there are fewer of them and if possible avoid public transportation during the rush hour. These are the very few of the many possible precautions you should adopt.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE AT HOME
Safety precautions for the home may be much easier but it is still crucial so as to reduce the chance of bringing the infection into your home and infecting your loved ones. The following are the easy steps to adopt which are beneficial to you once they become a routine habit.
- Leave your footwear in a shoe rack outside the house.
- Dispose masks or gloves outside the house before entering.
- Wash hands properly upon arriving from outdoors.
- Immediately change and dispose the clothes worn outdoors upon arriving home.
- Frequently disinfect common high-touch surfaces or items such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, kitchen and bathroom, computers, mobile phones, remote controls and many more with a safe and effective disinfectant or cleanser.
- Remove and dispose packaging of food that has been bought outside.
MENTAL HEALTH CARE DURING COVID CRISIS
The pandemic has turned our world upside down with drastic changes and it effects our routine, employment, finances, lifestyle, fear for contracting the virus and the anxiety of unpredictable uncertainty. All these are unavoidable stresses that will be difficult to deal with by those who have pre-existing mental health conditions. And even for those without, it may be cause them to suffer in mental health if they are not aware or equipped to deal with the current extraordinary situation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published substantial information and advice on how to take care of our mental health during this period. We should be acquainted with them so that we can help others who are affected with such a condition.
However seemingly simple the above may be, it will have a huge impact on our way of life henceforth. It is important to establish a “new” schedule in your life that promotes a sense of well-being such as your sleeping and waking moments, healthy timely meals, exercise, allocating hours for screen time, video games, social media and others. Maintaining contact with friends and family online rather than meeting them can be very helpful as well.
ADVANCE CARE PLANNING
Advance care planning is an expressed preference of the medical care you want to receive if you unfortunately have a life-threatening condition and you are not able to decide for yourself anymore. This is a matter which has to be discussed with your loved ones and doctors as they would advocate the plan when needed. This is not a new practice as it has been done by people who are suffering with terminal illnesses who will be unable to make a decision on their life as they are incapacitated. COVID-19 has now given people a sense of urgency to establishing this with their family. This is because once a person has been admitted for COVID-19 in a medical institution his family and friends will not be allowed to visit him even if his condition become critical and ending up in his untimely death. It is indeed a very difficult time and having an advance care plan makes it less stressful for families and the medical team to decide and make critical decisions on the person in accordance with his wishes.
A standard advance care plan will include the following:
- Assigning and documenting a person who will willingly be your health care proxy and help the medical team to make decisions on your behalf while also following the directives you have expressed.
- Identify directives of the extent of life-sustaining interventions such as the use of ventilators, intubation, artificial nutrition and other possible treatments.
- Decide whether to have a DNR (do not resuscitate) order which is an instruction not to perform CPR and ventilation support in case the heart or breathing stops.
COVID-19 pandemic has made us more aware of our health and how we care for it proactively. It has also taught us to be prepared and be equipped to go out into an uncertain world ,like a soldier preparing before going into battle, and fighting against a invisible force and to be ready if ever as and when the COVID-19 virus unfortunately intrudes into our body.