Life looked drastically different a few months ago compared to how it is now. Due to the impact of the Coronavirus Disease, many of us might be left feeling disoriented and frantic. We may not be able to control our circumstances, but we can choose how we manage and respond to matters from here.
Have you ever wondered why 20 seconds of handwashing is recommended instead of 5 or 10? Read on to find out about how you can protect yourself and others from the virus, as well as how to manage covid-19 anxiety.
What Exactly Is The Coronavirus Disease 19?
We all know that there’s an infectious disease going around. We know that it spreads mainly from person-to-person, through respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. But what exactly is the coronavirus?
According to the Ministry Of Health (MOH) Singapore, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses causing illnesses ranging from the common cold to pneumonia (a more severe lung infection).
COVID-19 has caused cases of severe pneumonia in China and cases have been exported to other countries and cities. On March 11, 2020, Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), meaning it is now spread across a large region; meaning multiple continents, or worldwide.
Can We Do Anything About The Situation?
Although this is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus, it is also said to be the first pandemic that we can control. WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged global communities to double up on our efforts, as aggressive measures play a big role in curbing the outbreak.
What Are The Common And Not-So-Common Symptoms of Covid-19?
According to the WHO,
COMMON symptoms of Covid-19 include, but are not limited to:
Headache, cough and fever.
NOT-SO-COMMON symptoms include, but are not limited to:
Fatigue, breathing difficulty, aches and pain and sore throat.
RARER symptoms include, but are not limited to:
Runny nose and diarrhoea.
How Can You Protect Yourself And Others?
Listed below are 6 ways you can protect yourself from the outbreak:
- Seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling unwell. Do not go to work or school as it puts other people at risk. If you are issued an MC instead of being directly taken to the NCID, stay home and get the rest you need while monitoring your condition closely. Update your doctor should the need arise.
- Avoid close contact with people displaying symptoms or are feeling unwell. Keeping 1-3m apart is advisable, but it is best to avoid coming into contact with them at all, if possible.
- Observe good personal hygiene; practice frequent handwashing (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing)
- Wear a mask if you are showing any respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a piece of tissue and dispose of it in the bin immediately. Do NOT cough or sneeze in the air!
- Stay calm and vigilant.
Why Is Soap So Important In Handwashing?
If you’re already practising frequent handwashing, good for you! But are you washing your hands long enough?
20 seconds is the recommended time to be washing your hands with soap; here’s why:
The virus particle is surrounded by a layer of proteins and fat. So what happens if you just wash your hands with water? The water just rushes right over it, and particles will still remain on your hand. This is because the layer of fat makes it act somewhat like an oil droplet. And as you may know, oil and water are immiscible.
Soap has two-sided molecules. One end is attracted to water, while the other end is attracted to fat. So when mixed together, soap pulls apart the layer of fat, while water rinses the remainder down the drain.
Why 20 Seconds Of Handwashing, Not 5 Or 10
Simply put, it takes time for the process to happen! If you’re only washing your hands for 5 or 10 seconds, chances are, there will still be harmful particles on your hands!
Pro tip: one thing you can do to ensure you’ve used up 20 seconds is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice in your head (or out loud) while washing your hands with soap!
How To Manage Covid-19 Anxiety?
Anxiety isn’t something you can conquer once and for all. It’s something you have to first acknowledge, then manage.
- Know that you’re not alone. Reach out to people you trust and share your thoughts with them! Sometimes, all we need is a listening ear. They might also be able to provide a new perspective.
- Practice methods to calm and center yourself. For some people, it might be meditation, for others, it could be to pen their thoughts down. Find a healthy outlet that helps you cope with feelings of anxiety. Don’t avoid the signals that your body sends you.
- Read from official news sources, limit the amount of information you consume daily. If receiving constant updates and notifications on the Covid-19 situation adds to your stress, consider muting some of the channels you follow. Perhaps it might be useful to set aside 30 minutes a day to read the news so you’re still in the loop, but not overconsuming. Don’t jump to conclusions or believe everything you see on the internet, it’s best to always fact check with official news sources. Alternatively, you may go directly to WHO’s website for the most up-to-date information.
- Focus on things you can control. Granted you don’t have the cure to the virus, there are still some things you can do to help. For example, practicing good personal hygiene and being socially responsible.
- Set aside alone time to sort your thoughts out. Find a safe space and give yourself some time to think things through. You might just come out of the session with a clearer mind!
How to Stay Safe While Managing Covid-19 Anxiety
There’s a quote by Wiz Khalifa that applies rather well to this situation, “worrying is like walking around with an umbrella, waiting for it to rain”. It is understandable to feel anxious, especially with the situation being so unpredictable. However, it is important to note that things can and will get better eventually.
For now, what we can do is to stay alert and practice good personal hygiene and socially responsible habits. Remember: by protecting yourself, you are also protecting others!