How to keep yourself informed and safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Fifty cases of the COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus have been reported in the Philippines as of writing. And as a precautionary measure to prevent exposure to the virus, classes in Metro Manila have been suspended and a number of private companies have implemented work-from-home schemes. However, there’s something spreading all over the country that’s almost as bad as the said virus: misinformation. And it’s spreading twice as fast (or more).

What you need to now about COVID-19

COVID-19 is a member of the coronavirus family, which causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. Its symptoms are very common—fever, tiredness, dry cough—and sometimes, people with the virus don’t develop any symptoms.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 80% of diagnosed patients recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

How does it spread?

This disease is spread through water droplets (coughs, sneezes, exhales) from an infected person. These droplets can land on objects and surfaces and other people who touch these and then touch their face.

To answer commonly asked questions, a face mask alone won’t save you from COVID-19. It’s actually better for someone sick to use the face mask to prevent spreading droplets than for a healthy person to wear one. The droplets can still fall on your clothes, your bag, or your phone if the sick person isn’t wearing a mask. Pro tip: if you’re sick, stay at home.

How can you protect yourself from the disease?

Preparedness is always key in these times of crisis. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the best way to prevent the illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. However, not everyone has the privilege of staying home. Try social distancing when you’re riding the MRT.

To those risking exposure every day by commuting, the end is not nigh. You can keep yourself safe from COVID-19 by keeping essentials in your backpack.

Always carry around a disinfectant, whether it be an alcohol spray, hand sanitizer, or soap (so you can wash your hands when you get to your destination). Don’t forget to always disinfect before touching your face.

Wash your hands, and do so for at least 20 seconds. If you need help counting the time, you can sing different handwashing jingles.

Another thing you should do is to disinfect your gadgets. Your smartphone and earphones are just as exposed as you are. Keep sanitary wipes at the ready so you can clean your beloved tech with sanitary wipes.

Of course, if you’re going to be in a confined space with others, wear a face mask.

Other important things you should do

People are quick to post and react to what they see on social media but this just causes unnecessary panic and paranoia. We don’t need fearmongering on our news feed. Stop spreading rumors and if you are determined to share details about COVID-19 cases, check your sources. Better yet, follow legitimate organizations and agencies like the CDC, WHO, and the Department of Health (DOH) for updates.

DOH has a live COVID-19 case tracker, which you can view on their website. It shows you the number of confirmed cases, PUIs, and discharged PUIs. The agency also posts releases and news about the virus on their website.

Read more: 5 tips to get better good night’s sleep

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