Congratulations! You have already done the first thing to keep yourself safe during Covid-19 times.
Number One is to try inform yourself as best as you can regarding new scientific evidence that is found regarding the Covid-19 virus in the world. (It is called keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer!)
Reputable resources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are good sources of information regarding public health. They are your friends!
Number Two is to consistantly practice good hygiene especially before eating, drinking or touching any area with open mucous membranes such as your mouth, nose, or eyes. With good hygiene, we mean that you should wash your hands with clean water and soap, before touching any of these areas or before touching the food that you are plannning to eat or prepare. If you can’t wash your hands for twenty seconds with adequate water and soap, or if you want to make very sure you are not exposing yourself to surfaces that may have had Covid-19 exposure, it is best to use an alcohol based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in it. Hand sanitizer will also kill other bacterial disease such as Cholera. If you are not sure that you have access to clean water, add 8 drops of household bleach to every 1 liter of drinking water or to water that will be used for the preparation of food. A UV filter may also assist to reduce bacterial load (cholera) in water. Using eating utensils adds another layer of safety.
Number three is to prepare yourself and your family at least once a year before the flu-season, usually by the change of seasons, with vaccinations against the season’s flu and taking the Covid- 19 vaccine if you are elligible to have it. It has been proven to be the safest and most affordable option for most people – nearly everybody, unless you have a particular history of adverse reactions to vaccine, in which case you should discuss it with your medical doctor or General Practitioner (GP). If you are concerned regarding this, please also discuss your concerns with your doctor, especially if you have heart conditions, diabetes, or any auto-immune conditions. In general , Getting vaccinated is really important especially if you have a chronic medical condition, or if you are an older person, but for younger people too, as they lead more active lives. Try plan big events for outdoors rather than indoors, as the ventilation is so much better then and we mostly have lovely, sunny weather in South Africa. A little bit of sunshine improves vitamin D levels, which, exposed to responsibly, can add to your health! Try support your immune system with adequate exercises, good eating habits, responsible descisions and enough sleep.
Number four is to respect personal boundaries, even if it is just for other people’s mental wellbeing. If someone else is retreating away from you or wearing a mask over their nose and mouth, please don’t be taken back by it. They may have a chronic condition or have personal reasons such as having a sore throat, and may be thinking of your wellbeing too. Or they may be driving in a car with a mask on to avoid transmission to people that they are not normally in contact with, because they may have someone with a serious heart condition or low immunity at home. It may also be the first time after the pandemic that they are venturing out, as people and whole countries just went through times of great insecurity and many questions. We all were exposed to extensive recommendations and some conflicting messages during the Covid-19 pandemic. So be kind to your fellow human being.
If you are one of those happy people that are just enjoying your freedom after the lockdown and believe that the pandemic is over – yes, the worst immediate threat is over - but the Covid-19 virus and other viruses are still with us. Try keep indoor spaces as safe as possible by opening windows or ensuring good ventilation when you are in public spaces. Keeping your air conditioning going may use extra electricity, but on a cold day, when your windows are closed, it may be worth it to put it on at the office if you share the space with others. Or consider still using hybrid work from home/ office regulations at work to reduce exposure to employees who fall ill in the winter.
Just keep a normal respectful personal space when you speak directly to someone from the front. Within your own family personal space can be minimal, as hugging can improve the immune system (especially for little ones) and we are social beings with social needs. Just try considering your exposure and perhaps take a shower if you arrive home from work if you have worked in public spaces with close human interaction. But for people who do not ordinarily meet up, it is normal to have some space between you. Don’t worry too much though – most people ‘s immune systems have already adapted and can fight off known viruses like Covid-19 very effectively.
Number five If you do fall sick and think it is Covid-19, especially if you have a high fever, dry cough, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, or any other unusual complication, please have yourself tested for Covid as soon as possible and rather stay home untill you are feeling a bit better, or at least the first few days. Also consult your doctor telephonically, online or physically depending on the doctor’s advice. Do not feel embarassed to wear a mask.
If you feel short of breath, have sudden severe pain in the legs, back or arm/jaw or head, or if you are starting to feel very sick or have severe tiredness, or diarhoea, please let yourself be checked at a GP or an emergency department. Be rather safe than sorry
Don’t just lie still in bed – make sure you change position often and get up a few times per day at least if you are recooperating. Move your feet up and down and bend and straighten your legs. Take deep breaths every now and again. Ask your physio for further advice or get a prescription for chest physio if you struggle. Follow up with a pulmonologist (lung doctor) if you are still concerned. Check in with your medical aid and see if they have any Covid-19 support packages or gadgets such as pulse oximeters which can be helpful to put your mind at rest, or to act timeously in case of deterioration. Let someone close to you know that you are not feeling well, so that they can check in on you.
Keep South Africa Safe!