Protecting yourself from Covid-19 when returning to work

You Need to Protect Yourself From COVID-19

COVID-19 is a serious threat. Yes, there are patients who come out of it with minimal issues. However, there are enough patients who suffer that people should put serious effort into protecting themselves and their loved ones. This is particularly true because COVID-19 has proven to be so infectious, which is one of the main reasons that it has managed to become a pandemic. Fortunately, there are ways that interested individuals can protect themselves.

How Can You Protect Yourself From COVID-19?

Here are some examples:

Spread Out

Social distancing has been recommended since the start. The exact recommendation can see a fair amount of variation. However, more space between people makes it that much more difficult for the virus to jump from person to person. As such, it is a good idea for each individual to have at least 4m² to themselves, particularly if they will be working in an enclosed space.

Ventilate

Good airflow is needed to dilute the concentration of the virus in the air. Unfortunately, this can actually backfire if good airflow isn’t combined with good ventilation because that will enable the virus to spread out without being diluted in the process. Having fresh air rather than recirculated air is important, so even something like opening the windows can prove to be important.

Wear a Mask

People should be wearing a facemask whenever they are close to people who aren’t members of their household. In part, this is because they need to protect others. However, it should also be mentioned that wearing the masks can protect them as well. Of course, this is assuming that the masks are worn in the right way, which means covering both the nose and the mouth before sealing it using the strip at the top. Furthermore, it’s recommended to avoid touching the outside of the mask as it could well be covered by the virus.

Consider Other PPE

Other kinds of PPE can prove to be very useful as well. For instance, the eyes are a potential point of entry for the virus, so a pair of safety glasses can provide interested individuals with some much-needed peace of mind. Similarly, people touch everything with their hands, which is why a pair of disposable gloves can come in use when they are interacting with surfaces that other people have touched. Other examples of potentially useful PPE range from hair nets to sleeves and shoe covers.

Wash Your Hands

One of the biggest risks would be people touching a surface that has been contaminated with COVID-19 before touching either their eyes, their nose, their mouth, or some other part of their face. Theoretically, people can stop touching their faces. In practice, this is something so normal that even a moment’s lapse in their vigilance will result in people touching their face. Instead, it is a much better idea to wash the hands on a regular basis. This means washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. On top of this, it should be mentioned that there are some moments when it is particularly important to wash & sanitise. For example, washing hands is a good idea before either eating food or preparing food. Likewise, washing hands is a good idea after coughing, sneezing, blowing the nose, touching the mask, and even leaving a public space. When it comes to COVID-19, it is better to be too careful rather than not careful enough.

Sanitize Surfaces

On a related note, it is a good idea to sanitise surfaces on a regular basis. For instance, if people don’t have the chance to wash their hands, they should use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. However, sanitisers are also very useful for surfaces that a lot of people come into contact with. After all, the virus can survive for hours and hours on certain surfaces, thus making this a very real concern for interested individuals.

Further Considerations

Despite the enormous interest in COVID-19, it is still a relatively new disease. Due to this, researchers are still turning up new information on a regular basis, which can be put to practical use in workplaces as well as other public spaces. As a result, people should continue paying attention to keep up-to-date on the best practices for COVID-19 prevention.

Face Masks: The Do’s & Don’ts

The Do’s of a Mask

• Do wear your mask whenever you are leaving your house

• Do stay 6 feet away from the next person when in public

• Do clean your hands before wearing your mask when you touch it and after removing it

• Do wear your mask at home if living with an aged person or one whose immunity is compromised

• Do ensure your mask fits snugly, leaving not even a tiny gap.

• Do ensure your mask has multiple layers of fabric and you can breathe comfortably through it.

• Do wash your reusable mask regularly with warm water and detergent then dry it completely

The Don’ts of a Face Mask

• Don’t hang the mask on one of your ears; put it on your forehead, around your neck, or anywhere else apart from covering your nose and mouth

• Don’t touch the front of the mask because that part is contaminated. If you do, make sure you wash your hand with soap and water or use a sanitizer.

• Don’t leave your nose out when wearing the mask. Cover it together with your mouth for maximum protection

• Don’t cover any child below the age of two with a facemask or anyone who has trouble breathing or cannot take off the mask by themselves.

• Don’t use medical-grade masks. They are scarce and only reserved for health workers and other medical responders.

• Don’t push your mask down around your chin or neck when eating or drinking. Follow the mask removing procedure and put the mask aside. Once you are done, follow the mask-wearing procedure and have it back.

• Don’t wear torn, soiled, saturated, or any other mask that is not in good condition

• Don’t touch your eyes before cleaning your hands or using a sanitizer. Your eyes are an entry point for the virus

• Don’t be confident with the mask alone. Keep social distance and clean your hands often. You can still get infected if you get close to an infected person, even when wearing a mask.

• Don’t go out when you are feeling unwell, such as when you have a fever or are coughing

A face mask acts as a barrier to help prevent the wearer’s respiratory droplets from reaching the other person. Respiratory droplets are released into the air when you talk, sing, sneeze, shout, or cough. If the respiratory droplets contain viruses or germs, you are likely to infect the next person. Because of the current coronavirus pandemic, the UK government requires wearing masks in public such as social gatherings, public and mass transportation, and any other places where people meet.

Types of Masks and How They Work

Cloth masks

Cloth or fabric masks should include multiple layers of fabric. A cloth mask traps the droplets of the wearer from getting to the other person. It can be washed and reused. The spread of covid-19 can be slowed down if everybody wears a mask while in public.

Surgical/medical masks

This mask protects your mouth and nose from contact with splashes, droplets, or sprays that may contain germs. It may also protect others from exposure to your saliva and respiratory secretions. Surgical masks can be used in place of N95 masks for protection against coronavirus.

N95 masks

An N95 mask compared to a surgical mask offers better protection against airborne particles like germs and viruses. The mask can filter out both large and small particles when inhaling. As the name suggests, this mask filters 95 percent of very small particles. Just like surgical face masks masks, they are intended to be disposed of after use. N95 masks have been proven to reduce the inhalation of contaminated air during outbreaks of respiratory illnesses and intense air pollution.

Steps to Follow When Wearing/Removing Your Mask

Wearing Your Mask

For the mask to effectively protect you, you need to wear it correctly. Below is a step by step guide on how you should wear your mask

  • Before you touch the mask, make sure your hands are clean— wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer. Now that your hands are clean, you can go ahead and remove the mask from its box.
  • Check both sides of the mask to ensure it does not have any tears or holes.
  • Determine which side of the mask is top and which one is bottom. Also, check to see which part will face inside. The colored side of the mask is usually meant to face outside.
  • Depending on your type of face mask, follow one of the following instructions.
  • For a mask with ear loops, hold the ear loops and place it on your ears
  • For a mask with bands, use your fingertips to hold the nosepiece then bring it to the level of your nose. Pull the top strap over your head, ensuring it rests well over the crown of your head, then the bottom strap over your head again so that it rests at the nape of your neck.
  • For a mask with ties, bring the mask to your nose’s level, then secure the top ties in a bow over the crown of your head and the bottom ties in a bow at the nape of your neck
  • Whichever mask you wear, pull it over your mouth and chin to ensure it covers you properly
  • For ease of breathing, pinch the top of your mask’s stiff edge to the shape of your nose.

Removing Your Mask

  • Wash your hands, or use a sanitizer, then follow one of the following instructions based on your type of face mask
  • For the one with ear loops, hold both ear loops, then remove the mask.
  • For the one with bands, start by lifting the bottom strap over your head then the top strap
  • For the one with ties, untie the bottom bow before the top
  • Throw the mask in the dustbin, then wash your hands or use a sanitizer.

A facemask combined with other preventive measures such as frequently cleaning your hands and keeping social distance helps slow down the spread of coronavirus. Remember, not all people who have the virus have symptoms. As such, it’s always important to always be wary of how you conduct yourself when in gatherings. No one is immune to the virus.

(COVID-19) Advice – When & How to Use Face Masks

When to use a mask

  • Before putting on a face mask, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

When & how to wear medical face masks to protect against coronavirus?

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

How to put on, use, remove and dispose of your face mask

When you should use a face mask

Coronavirus common misconceptions and myths

Currently there are no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19

While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop and evaluate medicines to treat COVID-19.

Adding peppers or chilies to your soup or other meals DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19

Hot peppers or chilies in your food, though very tasty, cannot prevent or cure COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is to keep at least 1 metre away from others and to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. It is also beneficial for your general health to maintain a balanced diet, stay well hydrated, exercise regularly and sleep well.

COVID-19 CAN NOT be transmitted through houseflies

To date, there is no evidence or information to suggest that the COVID-19 virus transmitted through houseflies. The virus that cause COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. You can also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands. To protect yourself, keep at least 1-metre distance from others and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces. Clean your hands thoroughly and often and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

Spraying and introducing bleach or another disinfectant into your body WILL NOT protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous

Do not under any circumstance spray or introduce bleach or any other disinfectant into your body. These substances can be poisonous if ingested and cause irritation and damage to your skin and eyes.

Bleach and disinfectant should be used carefully to disinfect surfaces only. Remember to keep chlorine (bleach) and other disinfectants out of reach of children.

Drinking methanol, ethanol or bleach DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19 and can be extremely dangerous

Methanol, ethanol, and bleach are poisons. Drinking them can lead to disability and death. Methanol, ethanol, and bleach are sometimes used in cleaning products to kill the virus on surfaces – however you should never drink them. They will not kill the virus in your body and they will harm your internal organs.

To protect yourself against COVID-19, disinfect objects and surfaces, especially the ones you touch regularly. You can use diluted bleach or alcohol for that. Make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25C degrees DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

You can recover from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Catching the new coronavirus DOES NOT mean you will have it for life.

Most of the people who catch COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies. If you catch the disease, make sure you treat your symptoms. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call your health facility by telephone first. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other lung disease.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have the virus-producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test.  You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.

Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous

Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems.

COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by maintaining physical distance of at least 1 metre from others and frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.

There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.

Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease

Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

The new coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites.

To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.

Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?

No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Ultra-violet (UV) lamps should not be used to disinfect hands or other areas of your skin

UV radiation can cause skin irritation and damage your eyes.

Cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing your hands with soap and water are the most effective ways to remove the virus.

How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus?

Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus.

However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.

Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?

No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.

Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.

Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?

People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.

How to Wear and Remove a Face Mask

What is a face mask?

Face masks are just one of the many tools used for the prevention of spreading disease. There are many variations of face masks available, each with their own benefits and features offering varying levels of protection. Its always important to use a face mask that has CE and FDA approval, meaning that the agency has determined that the “benefits of the product outweigh the known risks for the intended use.” Manufacturers must submit a premarket approval (PMA) application and the results of clinical testing in order to get approval.

How to wear a face mask?

The correct way to wear a surgical mask is with the coloured side of the mask facing the outside.

Regardless of whether you are wearing the mask because you are sick and don’t want to infect other people, or are wearing it to prevent yourself from becoming infected, face masks should always be worn with the coloured side facing out.

As the whole world reacts to the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, many have been sharing tips and messages on how to avert contracting this all too often fatal virus.

There is a common misconception about the correct way to wear a face mask, many people are suggesting to wear the coloured side facing outside if you’re sick and the white side outside if you want to “stop the germs from getting in”. This is however false, surgical masks are usually worn by frontline healthcare workers in order to prevent infections transmitted by respiratory droplets that are expelled from either coughing or sneezing.

The outermost layer of the surgical face mask is a hydrophobic or a fluid-repelling layer, while the inner layer is there to absorb any moisture, as naturally the air we breathe out contains moisture.

There is also typically a middle layer that filters the bacteria and contaminates.

The purpose of the blue or green layer is to stop germs from sticking to it. So if you wear the mask the other way as wrongly suggested by many, the moisture from the air will stick onto it, making it easier for germs to stay there. And so when you breathe in, the germs will transfer from the outside later and straight into your lungs.

How to remove a face mask?

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser before touching the mask. be sure to avoid touching the front of the mask. Only touch the ear loops/ties/band. Follow the instructions below for the mask type you are using.
  2. Face Mask with Earloops: Hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask.
  3. Face Mask with Ties: Untie the bottom bow first then untie the top bow and pull the mask away from you as the ties are loosened.
  4. Face Mask with Bands: Lift the bottom band over your head first then pull the top band over your head.
  5. Throw the mask in the bin. Wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser.