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Tips to protect yourself and to fight the spread of COVID-19
In this file photo from October 2019, atudents of Mariano Marcos Memorial High School wash their hands in observance of Global Handwashing Day.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file

Tips to protect yourself and to fight the spread of COVID-19

Kristofer Purnell (Philstar.com) - March 11, 2020 - 6:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — Medical experts and government authorities are racing against time to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines as the number of confirmed cases rose to 49 as of Wednesday, March 11.

Globally, there are nearly 120,000 reported cases and over 4,000 deaths, three-fourths of them in China, where the virus originated.

While scientists rush to find a vaccine for COVID-19, international agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have listed preventive measures that the public can practice in order to avoid infection.

Frequent hand washing

Throughout the day, your hands will come in contact with surfaces, objects and people that may have been exposed to the virus. 

As much as possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

When sneezing or coughing, rather than using your hands, cover your nose and mouth a bent elbow or a tissue, which must be disposed immediately.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says regularly washing hands is among the "most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs." 

The agency recommends thoroughly washing with water and soap for at least 20 seconds.

Another alternative is 70% isopropyl alcohol, or any other alcohol-based hand rub that is at least 60% alcohol.

Social distancing

WHO advises the public to practice social distancing—that is, to avoid mass gatherings and to maintain a distance from anyone who is sneezing or coughing.

COVID-19 is not an airborne virus, but it can be transmitted through small droplets that are dispelled through coughing and sneezing.

The CDC has noted that the virus is "community spread," meaning people in a particular location can be infected.

It is best to keep a distance of one to two meters from everyone, especially anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Stay healthy

The majority of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Philippines are among the elderly.

The virus has a more severe effect on the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions because of their weaker immune systems.

The public is asked to maintain good health and strengthen their immunity against COVID-19.

Basic practices include getting seven to nine hours of sleep, drinking eight cups of water a day, and consuming well-balanced meals.

As of writing, over 65,000 people have recovered from COVID-19. This is more than the 48,000 active cases, of which 12%—around 5,500 cases—are in critical condition.

While proper treatment and containment is still underway, the numbers show that COVID-19 patients have a good chance of recovery.

Self-quarantine

Work-from-home policies are being discussed by both the government and private companies, and President Duterte has already announced the suspension of classes in all levels until March 14.

If you are feeling unwell, avoid going out of the house and interacting with people. 

Seek medical attention if you have a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing, as they are the obvious symptoms of COVID-19.

These are also the symptoms of the common flu, but COVID-19 develops over time whereas the common flu can be identified after a day. 

The incubation period, that is the amount of time it takes to display symptoms, after contracting coronavirus can take up to two weeks although symptoms can appear after five days.

While it is premature to assume you may have been infected with COVID-19, seeking medical help early on will let authorities take necessary precautions and see if a diagnosed person was in the area.

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