Hygiene in the time of Coronavirus
Coronavirus has been dominating world headlines the last few weeks with total confirmed cases now at 111,489 and 3,381 deaths. Although Africa has recorded comparatively few cases, a total of 91 cases have been confirmed in 9 countries (55 of these have been recorded in Egypt and include 1 death).
While Zimbabwe has yet to record a confirmed case of COVID-19, medical practitioners and other concerned bodies, have called for government to be more forthcoming and transparent in its communication and strategy regarding monitoring of suspected cases and its preparedness for the arrival of the virus in general.
On 8 March the Ministry of Health released a formal coronavirus update in which it confirmed the country’s zero-case status and assured the public that preparedness and monitoring were being ramped up.
So, what can you, the concerned citizen, do to protect yourself and others, should the virus make its way across the border?
1. Remain informed. You can check the World Health Organisation daily situation reports here to get up to date information on the spread of the virus across the world. The WHO also busts a few myths about the disease here.
2. Keep your distance from coughers! The WHO recommends keeping 1 metre away from anyone coughing or sneezing. And if you have a cough, avoid public areas and cough into your elbow or a tissue as you would with an ordinary cold. It’s just good hygiene really.
3. Wash your hands. The virus is spread through contact with droplets which are mostly passed on through touch. Wash your hands when they are visibly dirty, before and after you eat, and after you cough or sneeze. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds – enough time to sing the chorus of Janet Manyowa’s Ndimi or Winky D’s Ijipita. Send us your suggestions of songs we can sing to while handwashing!
4. Seek medical care wisely. If you have been somewhere where confirmed cases have been reported and develop symptoms of Coronavirus, and/or if you have been in contact with an infected person, contact your local health practitioner. Do NOT go to a hospital or doctor’s waiting room without letting them know your concerns first – otherwise you could infect more people.
5. Try to remain calm. While there is a lot that is still unknown about COVID-19, there is much you can do to protect yourself and others. It is not necessary to wear a face mask (see more information on face masks here), and it is unnecessary to stockpile toilet paper or hand sanitiser. If you are feeling overwhelmed and panicked about the virus, the WHO has released advice on how to handle stress during this time.
If you still have questions, here are a few links to good sources of information about the virus:
- Common questions answered by Harvard Medical School
- On why the virus is spreading comparatively slowly in Africa by the Africa Report
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
- The World Health Organisation
SOURCE: Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe