7 ways you can protect yourself and those around you
We understand that this is a stressful time for the vulnerable, patients and their caregivers. To help you protect yourself and those around you, Nutricia is sharing a few simple rules from the World Health Organization (WHO). If you are a carer and in contact with the vulnerable or patients, it is even more important to responsibly safeguard your health and follow these recommendations – together we can limit the spread of the COVID-19.
In addition, we are sharing answers from our Nutricia experts to the most frequently asked questions about what to do if you are someone who is more vulnerable to COVID-19, currently a patient, or looking after another person. Each category has specific scenarios to help guide you and can be applied to your daily lives.
1. Wash hands regularly
COVID-19 is spread by human contact. Therefore, the best way to protect against it is to properly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. We recommend that you make it a regular routine before meal times, when coming in from outdoors and before and after meeting friends or family.
What does it mean for you? This will help to eliminate any traces of the virus that may be on your hands so that you don’t infect yourself or anyone around you. In addition, please enforce hand washing for anyone entering into the same space as you – this may include family, helpers, the postman, etc. If you are a carer, it’s very important to explain this to the person you are looking after as well.
WHO’s handwashing guidelines: https://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/
2. Keep a social distance of 1.5 metres
We all want to be near our family members or patients to comfort them during these stressful times, however, it is recommended that we minimise our visits to stop the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, please shorten or postpone visits or family gatherings to a later date.
If you are around anyone that is unwell, avoid contact and maintain a safe distance of at least 1.5 meters as the virus is carried and passed-on by people. Social distancing has been proven to reduce the spread of the virus.
What does it mean for you? This doesn’t mean you should completely avoid contact with your friends and family. Try to find other means to communicate, such as by phone or online tools such as Skype, Webex or Zoom.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
We tend to touch different surfaces throughout the day which may carry the COVID-19 virus. Once it is on our hands, the easiest way for it to enter our body is through our eyes, mouth or nose. We can’t avoid touching surfaces, but we can avoid touching our faces and limit the potential spread of the virus into our body.
That’s why it helps to have the most-touched surfaces disinfected – doorknobs, tabletops, mobile phones, remote controls, steering wheels, handrails etc. Also try and avoid touching your face, it’s not easy but can be done if you pay attention to your gestures.
What does it mean for you? Surfaces can be contaminated with COVID-19 and once the virus is on our hands it can easily be transferred into the body via our eyes, mouth or nose when we touch our face.
If you are a carer and looking after someone who doesn’t have access to this vital information, please explain to them the importance of avoiding touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
4. Practice good respiratory hygiene
Make sure you and the people around your loved one or patient all follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing, then disposing of used tissues immediately.
What does it mean for you? Droplets can spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect yourself and the people around you from viruses such as the cold, flu and COVID-19.
5. Feeling sick? Seek advice from your local health authority as early as possible
If you’re experiencing early signs of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough or having difficulty breathing, seek medical advice immediately. Stay away from your local medical centre, hospital or pharmacy to avoid further spread of the disease. It is best to self-isolate, call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 and seek advice from your local public health unit.
What does it mean for you? National and local health authorities will have the most up-to-date information on the situation in your area. Contact your local public health unit and they will advise on how long you will need to be isolated. This will protect you and also help prevent further spreading of the virus. If you are a carer for another person and are noticing you are displaying symptoms of the virus, it’s better to self-isolate than risk passing it on.
6. Use good hygiene when preparing food
- Wash your hands before handling food.
- Use separate chopping boards for raw and cooked foods. Also wash your hands between handling raw and cooked food.
- You don’t have to avoid meat. Just be smart and make sure all the meat is cooked thoroughly and handled properly during preparation.
- Keep cold food cold <5°C, hot food hot >60°C
- Keep leftovers for only 2 days in the refrigerator. Reheat to >60°C if to be served hot
What does it mean for you? Because we cook for ourselves, our family and as a carer often for our patient, COVID-19 may be spread by ingestion. Therefore, it’s even more important for the person who’s preparing the food to follow strict hygiene procedures while cooking.
7. Stay informed and follow advice
With the increase of coverage on mass media and social media, it is very important for you to be aware of the correct information on the COVID-19 outbreak and to be mindful of fake news circulating which will only increase your concerns. The most reliable and up-to-date information available is on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Seek advice from trustworthy, reliable sources for you and your loved one.
For more information, please visit: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns.