You have no doubt heard the news of the spread of COVID-19 in and around your environment, community or towns around Uganda? You must take such information very seriously. What you have to do is protect yourself against COVID-19 by following and taking a few basic precautionary guidelines.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or more commonly coronavirus. The virus has affected 113,076,707 people and caused 2,512,272 as of February 27, 2021, according to data published by the WHO. On the other hand, the Uganda Ministry of Health reported 40,335 confirmed coronavirus cases and 334 deaths as of February 26, 2021.
COVID-19 is a global pandemic, with the virus easily transmitted from person to person. There is no known cure for the disease. The transmission of the disease is further complicated that not all positive persons exhibit symptoms if though they can transmit the disease unknowingly. This is another reason why everyone should listen to health guidelines to limit the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Simple things such as social distancing, wearing a nose mask, staying away from large crowds, washing your hands, staying in ventilated rooms, and sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue are simple prevention acts to protect oneself and limit the spread of COVID-19.
It is your obligation to ensure people are safe around you and your right to be safe from potential infection.
How to do I protect myself and others from COVID-19
Below are a few basic steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you from contracting COVID-19, the diseases caused by SARS-COV-2, which is commonly called coronavirus.
1. You should always keep not less than a 3 feet distance between other people and yourself whenever. This safety practice helps to reduce the risk of infection if or when someone around you talks, coughs or sneezes. The perimeter of contact between yourself and others should even be further when you are inside a room or sharing space. If you can avoid it, it is best not to stay in an enclosed area with people who are not members of your household.
2. Wear a nose mask regularly whenever you are going out for your daily duties, especially around others. You must handle your mask properly. Use only clean masks and dispose of them appropriately.
These are basic ways to handle a mask:
- Before you put on your mask, ensure that your hands are washed properly and are clean. It is the same process before you take it off and after. In fact, always wash your hands whenever you touch your mask.
- When you wear your mask, ensure it covers your nose, mouth and chin.
- Store your mask in a clean and isolated place such as a plastic bag. Wash fabric masks every day, and if using is a medical mask, throw it away in the trash after one use.
- Do not use masks that have exhalation valves. These spaces can allow the virus to enter or escape thereby increasing the risk of infection to a person.
3. Avoid closed or crowded spaces and close contact with others. We hear reports of the coronavirus spreading rapidly at places such as restaurants, offices, classes, bars, nightclubs and even places of worship. These are locations where significant numbers of people gather. There is usually loud talking, shouting, heavy breathing and singing when crowds are gathered indoors. Thus, there is a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 in these places, especially when they are not well ventilated, and people stay together in close proximity for long periods. In such circles, the virus can spread more rapidly through respiratory droplets from the mouth and nose. This is why you have to take extra precautions.
It is more advisable to have outdoor gatherings than indoor ones. The outdoor gatherings are much safer especially if the indoor spaces are tight and there is a limited amount of air coming in. If you cannot completely avoid indoor settings then make sure that you keep a window or air valve open to allow in an increased level of air.
4. Simple hygiene is essential in protecting yourself from the virus infection. Ensure a thorough and regular use of soap and water to wash your hands. You can also use an alcohol-based sanitizer to rub over your palms. Doing this will kill germs and viruses that might be found on the hands.
5. Mind where you put your hands because surfaces, particularly in public areas, can be contaminated. So, desist from making contact with your eyes, nose and mouth by touching, rubbing or scratching with your hands. The virus can be transferred to these parts and through those openings and pass into your body system to infect you.
6. Sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue as a way of covering your mouth instead of doing so on your palms. After using a tissue, make sure to throw it away into a closed bin and follow up by washing your hands with soap. You will protect people yourself and others from the virus when you follow these simple hygiene rules.
7. Perform frequent disinfection of surfaces, which you usually touch. Clean places such as fridge and door handles, phone screens and remote controls.
For more information, visit the Ministry of Health website.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
It is important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of COVID-19. Signs such as fever, drowsiness, weakness and cough are quite common. Some others that are not so common to several people include headaches, eye-redness, loss of taste and smell, aches, pains, skin rashes, nasal congestion, diarrhea and sore throat.
Advice for you or for someone who might be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- You should first self-isolate. This means that you should stay at home and by yourself if you experience any of the mild symptoms until your health improves.
- Request for a COVID-19 test from a reputable test center such as the TestXpress. We offer reliable home PCR testing and you can get your result the same day.
- If you are experiencing fever, difficulty in breathing, and a cough, quickly request medical aid. You should put a call through first, and then, make sure you follow the guidelines and directives given to you by your local Ugandan health authorities.
- Very importantly, endeavor to follow and keep up with the updated news and information regarding COVID-19 from highly trusted and recommended sources. Information from WHO or your local and national Ugandan health authorities will serve you best.
If you want to know more about what you and people who live in and around your community should be doing to protect yourselves from COVID-19 in Uganda, contact the public health units.
Local and national authorities and public health units are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.