While we’re still learning about the novel coronavirus, there are a lot of things we do know—like how it spreads, and how best to protect yourself and others. Keep reading for more information.
How to Protect Yourself
Right now, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. That means that the best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid exposure to the virus in the first place. The virus spreads primarily from person to person—between people who are in close contact (within six feet), and through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can be inhaled into the lungs, or can get in the mouths or noses of people nearby. Recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 can spread by people who show no symptoms.
Washing your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. It’s also important to stay home as much as you can, especially since people who don’t have any symptoms could still be infected. People can be symptom-less for anywhere between two and 14 days after catching COVID-19.
Wear a mask if you have one available. Because the virus is spread mainly through respiratory droplets, a regular cloth mask you make at home will do the job—try to avoid buying masks meant for healthcare workers. Don’t put a mask on young children under the age of two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask by themselves.
What to Do If You’re Sick
If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19—but not necessarily. Most people’s illness is mild, and they’re able to recover at home. If you think you’re sick, don’t leave your home unless it’s to get medical care. Always call ahead before visiting your doctor. Make sure you’re getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated.
While most people can manage their symptoms at home, there are symptoms associated with COVID-19 that should not be ignored. If you experience any of the following, seek medical attention right away:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- New confusion or an inability to wake up
- Bluish lips or face
Again, this is a new virus—if you experience any kind of severe symptom, seek medical attention.
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