How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
People around the world are strapping on breathing masks to prevent a viral infection. Other measures are more effective, though. Here are some tips based on WHO guidelines.
Better than nothing
It has not been proven that the face masks seen above can effectively protect you against viral infections. That said, these masks are probably able to catch some germs before they reach your mouth or nose. More importantly, they prevent people from touching their mouth or nose (which most people do instinctually). If you are already sick, such masks may keep you from infecting others.
Disinfect your hands
One of the best ways to protect yourself from the virus is to frequently clean your hands, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) list of recommendations. The WHO recommends alcohol-based hand rub, like the ones seen here in a hospital.
Soap and water will do as well
The simpler day-to-day solution is to use water and soap, if you've got some handy. But make sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Health authorities in the US recommend washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to pay attention to areas like your fingertips, thumbs and underneath your nails.
Coughing and sneezing - but doing it right!
So here's what the doctors recommend: When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your flexed elbow. Or use tissue — but then immediately throw that tissue away and wash your hands. With your shirt or sweater, however, no, you don't need to throw them away. Do wash them frequently, though, or take them to the dry cleaner's.
Another recommendation that may not work for everybody: Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough! If you have to tend to sick people, make doubly sure to take additional protective measures.
Got a fever? Go to the doctor, not on a trip!
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Avoid public places so you don't infect others. And also, explain to your doctor where you've previously traveled and who you may have come in contact with.
When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of the novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals. That includes any surfaces that are in contact with animals as well.
Well done — not rare!
Cook meat thoroughly. The consumption of raw, or undercooked, animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods. These are good food safety practices and help prevent the spread of illnesses.