As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced COVID-19, or widely known as Novel Coronavirus, a Pandemic. Originating from China’s Wuhan province, it has infected more than two hundred thousand people in total and caused more than 8000 deaths. While it spreads at an alarming pace, it results in fatality only if the person concerned is not seeking urgent medical attention.

According to WHO, the coronavirus family causes diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe conditions such as extreme acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Its typical symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, while the symptoms can appear as mild as the common cold or seasonal flu; if not treated, it may lead to a severe case of pneumonia as well as multi-organ failure. Most of the deaths reported are of the elderly and those with respiratory problems. World authorities have taken immediate steps to ensure the virus is contained and is not spreading.

In the past few months, countries have imposed travel bans and compulsory quarantine for travelers from infected countries, have taken drastic steps where schools, universities, malls, theatres, etc. have been closed to avoid large gatherings and prevent disease spread. People have been advised to remain indoors and quarantine themselves; many countries have asked people to practice social distancing, maintaining between themselves and others at least 1 meter (3 feet)-particularly when they are coughing and sneezing and touching their face with unwashed hands. In doing so, you extend your personal space to prevent the disease from contracting or spreading. Standing next to an infected person will pass the infection on to the recipient; all he or she has to do is breathe it in or rub their hands on their face, and the virus will reach the body through their eyes, nose, or mouth. Clean your hands frequently and thoroughly with a hand rub based on alcohol, or wash them with soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water by using alcohol-based hand rub destroys viruses that can be on your hands. This inevitably leads to diminishing disease transmission, morbidity, and mortality.

There are preventive steps that must be taken to prevent the spread of the infection. Now human beings are, by definition, social creatures despite all these prevention steps, subconsciously they appear to welcome people around them, during this interaction; there is a risk of spreading the virus.

If someone’s hand is contaminated with infection because they had coughed in it right before they shook your head, it’s no different than touching their dirty tissue. Your hand is now polluted, so if you are absent-mindedly rubbing your eye or covering your mouth, you might have just been infected. You cannot solely rely on other people to wash their hands to protect you, but we know, even after using the toilet, that people are bad at hand-washing.

The simple truth is that we put ourselves at risk of infection every time we interact with other humans. And hence we’ve come up with ways to welcome anyone without having to shake their hand or get in touch with someone.

Don’t exchange drinks or cheers with others in bars because this is a sure-fire way to contract the virus.

When you meet a colleague or friend do not:

● Shake hands

● Kiss on the cheek

● Hug the other person

● Fist bumps

Instead, practice these:

● Showing the peace sign

● Simply nodding your head in acknowledgment

● Wave your hand

● Smile 

Meetings shall be conducted through video conferences, as far as possible. Minimize or reschedule meetings that include a large number of people, unless necessary. This will eliminate the need to greet a large number of people in a single sitting. When entering the home, note always to clean your mouth, wash your face, and then welcome family members.

Once these behaviors become an instinct to one another, we could indeed help prevent the virus from spreading and stop this global pandemic. As people, we have to take care of each other and their well-being and bear in mind to take care of ourselves. This is not about making dramatic changes to our social interactions; it’s about taking small measures to help lower the risk of illness. When this epidemic continues, gradually we can perhaps see the unwillingness to shake hands and not partaking in any other form of greeting that involves human touch as an act of sincere concern for each other’s health, and not as a snub.

We have faced more significant pandemic causing illnesses and have come out stronger at the end of it, so let’s fight this epidemic together and put an end to it and stay healthy and take care of yourself as always.

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