14 ways to cope with the Coronavirus disease COVID-19 outbreak

coronavirus
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow) among human cells (pink). This virus was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (they have added Color to the image to better show the virus and its environment.)
(Image: © NIAID-RML)
For the past month and a half, I have been glued on Twitter to read the latest updates on the fight against Coronavirus disease COVID-19 or otherwise known as #coronavirus on Twitter. I have been meaning to compile a lot of helpful tips but saw that Alistair Miles, a Malaria researcher at the University of Oxford and Wellcome Sanger Institute compiled a helpful list. His advice on coping with COVID-19 is very helpful. In his twitter post, he shares “I’ve gleaned from folks who’ve worked in or studied other epidemics. Please take seriously and pass on to family and friends.”

1. Many countries like UK are currently in containment phase. But likely at some point infection will start spreading via local transmission. At that point, top priority is to slow the spread, and what we do as individuals and communities will be critical.

2. Fortunately risk of serious illness is low, especially for children. But risk is higher for elderly and people with existing health conditions. Everything we can do to slow the spread will help protect people at higher risk, and less people overall will get infected.

3. There are practical things everyone can do to reduce the risk of getting infected. These need practice, so start doing them now. You may still get infected, but it is worth really trying to avoid infection, because the more we slow spread the better. Slow the spread, buy time.

4. Stop touching your face. Especially stop touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This is much much harder than it sounds, and takes practice. But if you start practising now, you will quickly get a lot better at it.

5. Wash your hands often. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds, or rub hands with alcohol hand gel. Especially wash hands before eating or touching food.

6. If you or a friend or family member takes any prescription medication, make sure you have a good supply, e.g., at least 4 weeks worth.

7. Don’t panic buy enough food to survive a zombie apocalypse. But do buy a few extra provisions. Do it a bit at a time, add a few extra things in when you normally go shopping. Have 2 weeks worth of provisions, including some chocolate or other treats. Don’t forget about pets.

8. When local transmission does start, keep your distance from people, at least 2 metres. Especially people showing symptoms, but some people may carry the virus and transmit without symptoms, so generally keep some distance where you can. Stop shaking hands etc.

9. While a mask seems like a good idea, it can give a false sense of security. There isn’t a lot of good evidence that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public. But they are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.

10. If you or a loved one becomes sick, follow the practices of the day. Call ahead before going to a Doctor, fever clinic or hospital and get advice on what to do. Think through now how to take care of sick family members while trying not to get infected.

11. Talk things through with friends and family. Be prepared that some people will be very willing to talk about it, others may be reluctant or frightened. But general advice is that it’s a good way to prepare emotionally for life not as usual.

12. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like this will be over quickly. The new coronavirus may be with us into next year. It might even become a seasonal infection, returning each winter. This is probably going to be a marathon, not a sprint.

13. If you end up stuck at home for a couple of weeks, don’t forget about skype/facetime/google hangouts/etc., a great way to catch up, check in and hang out with friends and family.

14. If you manage a business or organisation, cross-train key staff at work so one person’s absence won’t derail our organisation’s ability to function.

He suggests further reading from these sites: So you think you’re about to be in a pandemic? and Past Time to Tell the Public: “It Will Probably Go Pandemic, and We Should All Prepare Now”

Alistair also shared who to follow on Twitter:

I would like to add that there is also a lot of misinformation going on about cures. Read World Health Organization Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters

I will update the list here once I find something useful.

To avoid unnecessary panic and anxiety, refrain from relying on social media. Check for Philippine updates on the following websites:

https://www.doh.gov.ph/2019-nCov

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019