In the face of increasingly widespread fears of a COVID-19 pandemic, what concrete steps can a person take right now to prevent the infection? Read our practical guide based on official sources.
In this Special Feature, we explain how to maximize the chances of staying healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, public health officials have reported tens of thousands of cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
This situation has caused many people around the world to feel anxious about becoming infected, and social media outlets and public forums abound with questions about how to keep COVID-19 at bay.
This Special Feature is a practical guide that describes the best ways to avoid a respiratory infection at home, at work, at school, and while traveling.
The recommendations that we outline are based on those of official sources, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), and the American Red Cross, as well as our correspondence with a WHO spokesperson.
How to stay safe where you live
“Based on the information received so far, and on our experience with other coronaviruses, COVID-19 appears to spread mostly through respiratory droplets (when a sick person coughs, for example) and close contact,” a WHO spokesperson told Medical News Today.
In light of that information, the spokesperson said, the WHO recommend preventive actions to minimize exposure to droplets.
During day-to-day activities, people can take the following measures to prevent infection, in accordance with WHO guidelines:
Clean the hands regularly with an alcohol-based sanitizer, or wash them with soap and water. The CDC also make this recommendation, advising that sanitizer should contain “at least 60% alcohol” and that people should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.
Clean surfaces — such as kitchen seats and work desks — regularly with disinfectant.
Avoid crowded areas when going out, for people over 60 years old and people with any underlying health problems.
Try to avoid close contact with people who display flu-like symptoms, including coughing and sneezing.
Get accurate information about COVID-19. Some good sources include the Pan American Health Organization and WHO websites.
The American Red Cross also advise against touching the mouth, nose, or eyes when out and about, before having a chance to wash the hands.