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Coronavirus: What You Need to Know, How to Protect Yourself

BACKGROUND

An outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was declared by the People’s Republic of China on 31st January, 2020. This outbreak has now spread to all continents and 46 countries are currently affected. Many others may be affected too.

In Africa, Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria have already reported cases. The possibility of spread to other African countries, Uganda inclusive is extremely high. Although Uganda has no case of COVID-19, it is pertinent that the population remains on high alert and diligently exercise preventive measures to avoid contracting the disease.

The Ministry of Health has developed the following do’s and don’ts to educate the public on how to avoid contracting the disease.

WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19)?

This is a highly infectious disease caused by the new Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is spread from person-to-person through sneezing, or coughing (droplets infection), human to human contact and contact with contaminated surfaces.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Other flu like symptoms like running nose, sneezing and body weakness

WHAT MUST BE DONE TO PROTECT ONESELF (THINGS TO DO)

1. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or, use an alcohol-based hand rub. This will remove the virus if it is on your hands.

2. Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or a handkerchief when coughing and sneezing. Throw away the used tissue immediately and wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. The handkerchief must be washed by yourself daily and ironed with a hot iron. In this way, you protect others from any virus released through coughs and sneezes.

3. Maintain reasonable distance between yourself and someone  who is coughing, sneezing (at least 1 meter apart).

4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus and you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, seek medical care immediately. If possible, call a health worker and alert them about your condition. Always follow the guidance of your health care worker.

6. People with flu-like symptoms should use face masks to cover the nose and mouth and stay home in a well-ventilated room.

7. If you are caring for individuals who have symptoms, such as cough and fever you are encouraged to use a face mask to cover your nose and mouth for personal protection.

8. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs/handles, car doors, elevator buttons etc. daily with regular household disinfectant or soap and water.

9. All travelers coming from countries affected by the Coronavirus disease should follow guidance given by health workers at the airport and other border entry points.

WHAT MUST NOT BE DONE

1. AVOID HAND-SHAKING AND HUGGING AT ALL TIMES.

2. Avoid close contact with people who are visibly sick with flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sneeze).

3. When sick with flu-like symptoms avoid going to public places, offices and public gatherings. Remain at home to avoid infecting others.

4. You do not need to wear medical masks if you do not have respiratory symptoms such as cough, sneezing or running nose.

5. Don’t take self-medication such as antibiotics.

6. Do NOT spit in public. Find a secluded place like toilets or pit latrines in which to spit.

7. Delay travel to countries that currently have many patients with Coronavirus disease. If you MUST travel, please follow the above protective measures.

8. Avoid travel if you have flu-like symptoms.

The Ministry of Health also advises the public to report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility or call our toll-free lines on 0800-203-033 and 0800-100-066 or the following officers – Mr. Atek  Kagirita 0782 909 153, Dr. Allan Muruta- 0772 460 297.

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