Do you need to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Or have you recently come into contact with a sick person?
Some of us don’t have the luxury of working from home and self-isolating, and are unfortunately still required to go to work.
And for those who are already self-isolating, a trip to the grocery store, pharmacy, even to work might become unavoidable pretty soon.
So, how do we protect ourselves and others from transmitting the coronavirus?
Well, we’ve done the work and put together a helpful guide on how to be prepared at home, travelling safely, and avoiding exposure to the virus.
First, let’s look at what the current situation is like.
Coronaviruses have been around for a while and have mainly affected animals. In 2019, the first animal to human transmission occurred. This transmission is reported to have occurred in a wet market in Wuhan, China which is a one of the biggest wildlife meat and seafood markets.
Looking for more information about Coronavirus? Check out our essential guide.
We know that the virus has since spread to countries around
the world, with Italy, Spain, Switzerland, USA, UK, and South Africa being
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and has much higher death rate compared to influenza. Currently, elderly people are at a very high risk of serious illness and death caused by symptoms of the disease.
Symptoms of COVID-19
- A dry cough
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath (feeling winded or out of
One can also have the following symptoms, but usually a
shortness of breath is the first indicator:
- Body ache
- Runny nose
The best way to help stop the spread of the novel
coronavirus is to:
- Practice social distancing (maintain a 2-meter distance if possible).
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or a high-alcohol hand sanitiser.
- Avoid unnecessary in-person meetings and group events.
- Avoid physical contact such handshakes, hugs, and kisses when greeting people.
- Practice self-isolation if you have come into contact with people who have travelled to affected countries or those who have been in contact with a group of people recently.
- If you need to cough or sneeze, do so by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue.
- Dispose of used tissues, gloves and face masks in a sealed bag or lined bin.
- Avoid contact with high-risk people such as the elderly or those with compromised immune systems and illnesses such as diabetes.
- If you do show symptoms of COVID-19, contact your healthcare service provider or your local coronavirus hotline. Do not go to the doctor, you’ll risk infecting other people!
Preparing your home for self-isolation if you’ve been exposed to coronavirus
Have you been in contact with someone who has travelled to
an affected country? Or have you been part of a group of people where one has
been diagnosed with COVID-19?
Self-isolation is a good idea right now, even if you haven’t been in contact with affected people, because it means you’ll avoid exposing yourself and your family to potential carriers of the virus.
For those who are showing symptoms or who are waiting for tests, you’ll need to self-quarantine for at least 14-days.
Besides the usual groceries and day-to-day essentials, you
should also keep an emergency kit at home and one for travel if you need to
leave home for emergencies.
Make sure the following items are included in your emergency
kit for home:
- First aid kit (you should have one of these all the time)
- At least a 2-week supply of prescription medication.
- Medication to treat symptoms. This can be over-the-counter cold and flu medication that is just to alleviate the symptoms such as pain, fever, runny nose, sore throat and coughing.
- Hand sanitiser and hand wipes.
- Disinfectant and new packet of hand towels or clean rags for cleaning surfaces.
- Disposable gloves.
- Cleaning products for household and laundry.
- Face masks.
- Bottled water.
- A few treats. Illness, fatigue, and long periods of isolation or family-time can lead to stress, so stock up on some healthy feel-good stuff too!
- Remember, there is no cure for COVID-19 so at best, you’ll need to manage the symptoms while you are awaiting further instructions from your healthcare provider.
- Hand sanitiser
- Hand wipes
- Face mask
- Ziploc or resealable bag (to keep tissues or disposable face masks until you can dispose of them safely)
With the shelves running empty in
many grocery stores, it can be difficult to find nutritious, long lasting food.
If you can, stock up a reasonable amount of the following:
- Canned foods such as beans, soups, fish and vegetables.
- Dry goods such as rice, grains, pastas, beans, legumes, powdered milk and soup bases.
- Baking goods such as flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, eggs and milk if you plan to make some basics such as bread and cakes at home
- Condiments such as sauces, spices, dried herbs, pickles.
- Frozen foods such as frozen vegetables, proteins of your choice, even frozen fruit comes in handy for smoothies or desserts.
- Healthy snacks such as dried fruits, nuts, seeded crackers, sugar-free cookies and others.
- Tea, honey, and lemon juice are great for soothing sore throats and coughs.
- If you buy fresh food, make sure to use it before the expiry date to avoid food poisoning or an upset tummy while you’re in isolation.
- Remember: don’t stockpile. Get what you need and leave the rest for others in need.
It makes sense for every household to store enough essentials to last for a couple of weeks — but to spend time in supermarkets trying to build up stockpiles is completely irrational.
What to do if you’ve been in contact with a sick person
It’s difficult to avoid being around people if you still
need to work outside of home, or if you need to have meetings, or see to family
members. If you suspect that you’ve been in contact with someone who could be
carrying the coronavirus here’s what you need to do.
1. Do not go home if you live with your family. Do not go to work, school or any other public place.
If you live with your family and come into contact with a sick person, ask your family members to either stay elsewhere with friends and other family or find out if there is an isolation hotel or accommodation nearby for yourself.
Many countries have coronavirus helplines, call them and find out where you can go immediately if you can’t go home.
2. Contact your nearest healthcare service provider, do not go to the hospital or to your doctor’s office.
You need to avoid all contact with people, so call your doctor,
hospital or coronavirus helpline and go through the steps outlined by them. In
most countries, they will either send you a test kit or bring you to a separate
testing centre depending on your symptoms.
3. If you do go home, you need to self-quarantine for at least 14-days.
Make use of online shopping and delivery services to stock up on essential food, medication, and household cleaning products (refer to our emergency supplies list above). Ask your delivery person to leave the items at the entrance to your apartment or at the front door.
Monitor your family’s symptoms if you are all together at
home under isolation. Check for fever and shortness of breath, and keep a log
of symptoms each day to see if there are any changes.
4. If you need to leave home for some reason, do not use public transport.
Even if you have a mask and loads of hand sanitiser, don’t risk it. Rather travel by private car, or contact your nearest hospital to find out if they can organise a secure transport for you. Wear a face mask when you are outside your home and in a vehicle.
5. Keep washing your hands and cleaning surfaces.
The virus spreads through droplets released from coughing
and sneezing and can survive on surfaces for a least 2 days. Make sure to wash
your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and wipe down
surfaces of your home with a disinfectant.
- Pay extra attention to keeping your bathroom, toilet, and kitchen areas clean.
- Do no reuse towels and clothing, wash these items daily.
- Keep your shoes outside.
- Keep coats, umbrellas, hats and other outerwear separated from your bedroom.
- Regularly wipe down your phones, tablets, laptops and any items you use daily. Avoid sharing devices.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
Keeping busy during self-quarantine
It’s not easy to be isolated for 14-days, especially if you’re not used to it or if you are unable to work during this time. Having kids home from school and a busy house might cause additional stress and strain on family relationships.
How can you keep yourself productive?
It’s important to rest and eat well while you are in isolation,
but with so many hours to fill, you might need some inspiration to keep busy
and productive. Here are 10 ways:
- Catch up on books, movies, and series.
- Start a diary. Journaling and writing are great ways to reduce stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for a creative outlet, try writing in a journal or sketching a few pages every day.
- Family time. Self-isolation doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and bond with your family. Watch movies together, exercise, play games and talk to each other.
- Help with school. If your child is attending online lessons, now is a good time to get involved and help them stay engaged by being part of their learning and helping with extracurricular activities.
- Organise cupboards and de-clutter. Sort through your photos and create albums or scrapbooks.
- Try new recipes, or practice arts and crafts with the kids.
- Stay informed. Keep up to date with latest news, helpful tips, and other developments around coronavirus by following trusted news sources. You can also stay up to date and informed through our mobile app.
- Practice gratitude.
- Stay in touch with friends and family with video calls and texts. Even if you can’t visit right now, you can still keep in touch with those close to you.
- Online gaming. It’s the perfect way to kill many hours! Just remember to take regular breaks 🙂
When it comes to keeping safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, you really shouldn’t panic. Just be prepared with the basics of washing your hands and practice social distancing.
Avoid coming into contact with high-risk individuals, and keep yourself reasonably well-stocked with both supplies and information.
If you come into contact with a sick person, immediately call your doctor or healthcare provider, avoid contact with people while you wait for further instructions, and regularly wash your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing. Wear a face mask if you need to travel.
Again, don’t stockpile essential items like food and hygiene products. Other people need to take the same precautions that you do, so be sensible when you’re shopping.
And lastly, keep yourself informed without the noise and sensationalism by downloading our app!
Harvard Corona Virus Resource Centre: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center
Coronavirus: What to do if you are sick: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html
Washington State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/COVIDexposed.pdf
What are the Rules of Social Distancing?: https://www.vox.com/2020/3/15/21179296/coronavirus-covid-19-social-distancing-bored-pandemic-quarantine-ethics
Coronavirus Symptoms: What are they and when should I see a doctor? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/16/coronavirus-symptoms-should-i-see-doctor-cough-covid-19