By Grace Olaniyan
The World Health Organisation Last Wednesday, March 11, 2020, declared COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease Discovered in 2019) a pandemic. The declaration came on the heels of the increase in the number of cases across the globe. As of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, no less than 219,238 infected people have been recorded globally, (62 per cent increase in the number cases recorded last week. The number of deaths also soared to 8,967 while statistics of recovered persons were capped 82,754.
In Nigeria, there are currently 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of the disease continues to heighten. Currently, efforts are in place by the government and health official across the country to isolate and tackle these cases, however, to curtail the spread of this pandemic, every individual must invest more effort other than washing of hands, coughing into elbows, avoiding touching our faces, staying home if unwell.
What do we need to do?
- Social distancing
Experts have said that the sooner citizens heed the advice and start practising social distancing, the better for us all. But what is social distancing?
Social distancing is the practice of reducing close contact between people to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. This measure entails limiting a large number of people gathering at a particular place, coming together, cancelling social and corporate events, gym workouts, theatre outings and avoiding crowded places. It also means not shaking hands, avoiding hugs and kisses, standing a few feet away from other people, and taking less-crowded vehicles or when possible driving instead of taking mass transit, working from home if possible, organising meetings via video calls rather than doing them in person according to a professor of Virology at Kings College, London, Stuart Neil.
As part of the measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Lagos and Ogun State Governments shut down schools and banned religious gatherings of more than 50 persons. Similarly, some businesses have shut down physical operations as employees have been asked to work from home.
To slow the transmission of the virus which is spread from person to person, the World Health organization recommends maintaining at least 6 feet from persons coughing and sneezing to reduce spreading COVID-19. We all need to take social distancing recommendations seriously since the virus is spread mainly from close person-to-person contact.
- Practise self-monitoring
This involves monitoring oneself for known symptoms of the virus. This means checking temperature levels at least twice a day to check for fever, observing your breathing patterns, staying alert for cough and unusual sneezing. If you feel feverish or experience abnormal temperature levels (above 38 degrees Celsius), dry cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, please self-isolate, limit contact with others, and contact the Lagos State Ministry of Health or the Nigeria Centre for Disease and Control. However, it is important to note that some individuals may be asymptomatic carriers. Hence, if you have come in contact with a person who tested positive for the COVID-19, do confirm your status. Remember, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, says the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, United States, Dr. Michael Osterholm.
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- Boost your immune system
It is no longer news that persons with underlying health issues are more vulnerable to this pandemic. As such experts advise that boosting your immune system may also give you an edge in fighting off these viruses and staying healthy this season.
“Eighty percent of your immune system is in the gut, so when it’s healthy, we tend to be able to fight off infections faster and better, but “when it’s not, our immune system is weaker and more susceptible to fighting off infection” according to the Managing Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, Yufang Lin. How to boost your immune system? Stay active, sleep well and eat healthy.
- Remain socially connected
Though measures have been put in place to limit face to face interactions, now more than ever, we must remain socially connected. Especially if we have friends or relatives persons who are not social media or tech-savvy, it is important to stay in contact with one another and encourage one another. Reach out to loved ones as much as possible, send text messages or place phone calls to check on their welfare and to also keep them abreast of recent updates on the pandemic.
Avoid being misinformed on the pandemic by only consuming information from credible sources such as reputable news sites, the Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. Also, avoid spreading rumours that may cause upset or panic.