Coronavirus outbreak calls for SAFETY FIRST
In what looks to become the worst ever global pandemic, the daily news about the 2019-nCoV or coronavirus is grim. The disease originated in China and has to date taken the lives of nearly 2000 people, with new deaths being reported daily. Thankfully, the 500 Namibian students, of whom 27 live in Wuhan, have not been infected to date.
Our theme of Safety and Security would be incomplete without touching on this insidious threat to our homes and lives. Statistically, the outbreak may spread to Namibia. What should we do or not do?
If you have mild respiratory symptoms and share no travel history with China, chances are that you merely have a common cold. Carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered.
Refrain from travelling to countries with confirmed cases of the sickness. If you do need to travel, take precautions such as immunity-building medicines and wear a face mask, especially in confined spaces such as planes and trains. (You will need to make your own face masks as there is a world-wide shortage. It is recommended that a mask is worn only once and then discarded. However, if you make your own cloth masks, you will need to sanitise them and dry them with a hot hairdryer every night).
Handwashing is vital. Scrub often with warm water and soap or use an alcohol-based cleanser. Touch as few people and surfaces as possible and refrain from touching your facemask, eyes, nose and mouth. Turn away from feverish, coughing people – a recommended distance of one meter should be maintained. If you are the one sneezing and coughing, be sure to contain the droplets in the crook of your elbow or in a tissue which is then discarded immediately in a closed bin.
Basic home hygiene should be practised at all times, whether there is a deadly coronavirus lurking or not. Do not share facecloths, towels, toothbrushes or eating utensils. Wipe down communal surfaces often with disinfectant.
Follow food safety practices. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care, to avoid cross-contamination of any germs or viruses with uncooked foods. Although claims are being made that the coronavirus originated from wild animals, eating meat is fine provided strict hygiene is followed and the meat is thoroughly cooked. Heat destroys germs and viruses.
Should you come into contact with international travellers and start showing symptoms, report for a coronavirus test as soon as possible. Alert your health care provider and isolate yourself from others. Many people are strong enough to overcome the disease.
Whether today is your last day or not, contemplate your salvation and ultimate destination.Christine Stoman