You Could Be At Risk For COVID-19 Even If You're Staying At Home. Here's Why!
You may be staying at home and following the quarantine, but there are things that you may be neglecting that puts you at risk
Despite the Enhanced Community Quarantine measures in place, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the Philippines, making us the country with the most infections so far in the whole of Southeast Asia.
This is to remind everyone that while we’re staying at home, there are still things that we may be overlooking that could potentially put us at risk. This one woman, for example, was reported by WCNC to have contracted Covid-19 despite strictly staying at home for 3 weeks, with no other contact but her husband (who lives in a separate room) and a woman who brought her groceries once.
The virus is highly contagious and there are so many avenues for it to still reach us despite our efforts to stay in our homes. Here is a list of things that you may be doing that you don’t know increases your risk of contracting the virus.
We all have to go out every now and then to grab essentials from the grocery, the market, or the pharmacy. But if you’re not disinfecting the basket or cart that you’re using, if you’re not wearing the right protective equipment (e.g. face mask and gloves), and if you’re not allotting enough space between yourself and others, then you’re increasing your risk of contracting the virus.
Photos of crowded local markets have been circulating online despite the lockdown, showing that there’s no social distancing happening. If you can, try to go out when there’s fewer people outside, or have your essentials delivered instead.
Not disinfecting groceries
We are very well familiar with the fact that Covid-19-infected droplets can stay on surfaces for long periods of time. So when you visit the grocery store, even though you’re staying away from people, the things you touch and buy might be carrying the virus back to your home.
Think about it like this: an asymptomatic person (either a grocery store worker or another shopper who touches the item but puts it back) accidentally transfers infected droplets to a carton of milk. You buy that carton, take it home, and put it in your refrigerator without disinfecting. Did you know that the virus can stay on plastic surfaces for up to 3 days? So you just unknowingly exposed your whole household to the virus.
Check this infographic by AFP that shows how long the virus can stay on surfaces:
Not disinfecting your phone and keys
There’s no doubt that you touched your bag, phone, keys, ATM or credit card, cash, and quarantine pass when you went out. So just like your groceries, make sure to always disinfect personal belongings.
Staying in the clothes you used when you went out
Your body and clothes came in contact with a lot of public spaces when you were outside, so it’s best to chuck them straight to the laundry pile and take a bath immediately.
Not cleaning your house
You should be cleaning your house regularly anyway, Covid season or not, but it is much more important to clean and disinfect all areas that come into contact with items from the outside world right now. This includes countertops where you put your grocery items, sinks, areas that come into contact with footwear that came from outside, and doorknobs or handles that you touch.
This is especially important when you live in an area with communal spaces like condos and apartments. When you share areas like balconies, laundry area, and hallways, make sure that those spaces are always disinfected.
Ordering take out
In short, just treat everything that comes from the outside world as a possible carrier—that includes take-out food and food packaging.
Benjamin Chapman, a professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, underlines that food, itself, take-out particularly, may not be a likely carrier of the virus. Chapman tells Live Science that food safety measures that are already in place should be enough to reduce the transmission of virus particles through food. This is why it’s important to order only from places that you’re sure practices good food safety procedures.
However, food packaging may be a different matter because that passes through more hands—it comes into contact with delivery riders and your curbside due to the no-touch policy. To be perfectly safe, transfer the food immediately to a clean container, throw out the packaging, and wash your hands thoroughly before eating.
Using contact lenses
According to Dr. Agnes Tran, owner of an eye care center in Missouri, those who wear contact lenses has a 16 percent higher risk than those who don’t. Since the virus enters the body through the eyes, mouth, and nose, it’s best to not touch your eyes as much as you can—which is very hard when you need to put in and take out your contacts every day. She also feels that cleaning them with the usual solution may not be enough to disinfect it from the virus right now.
For the meantime, Dr. Agnes suggests to use glasses as an alternative.
Not taking vitamins
Vitamin supplements like Vitamin C and Vitamin D have been proven to help keep your immune system healthy, which may protect against respiratory illnesses in general. While they don’t protect you from Covid-19 per se, it works to strengthen your body in fighting any kind of illness that might compromise your immunity and make you more susceptible to the virus. So if you’re not confident that your diet is composed of enough Vitamin C and D, better plug the deficit through supplements.
The same way that Vitamin D is crucial to your immune system, enough and good quality sleep is also very important for the proper functioning of your immune system. Don’t compromise on sleep and take this opportunity to settle all the sleep debts you’ve occurred over the years.
Consuming and spreading fake news
Since we’re almost always stuck to our phones and social media, we are more susceptible to receiving and stumbling upon misleading and false information. Don’t be quick to believe and share information that claims herbal medicine, oils, garlic, egg, and the like are cures against Covid-19 because until now, there is no scientifically proven cure to the disease. Always double check that the information that you consume comes from credible sources and people.