Asian Insider video: Avoiding the coronavirus

WASHINGTON – The best way to protect against the Covid-19 coronavirus is to understand it is like the virus that causes the highly contagious common cold, says Ms Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer who has written books on pandemics.

Ms Garrett, who was in China during the 2003 Sars outbreak, shared practical tips to avoid the virus.

Among them:

– When leaving home, wear gloves, and keep them on in subways, buses, and public spaces, or when caring for an ill person. If you must remove your gloves, to shake hands or eat, keep your hands away from contact with your face, and before you put the gloves back on, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, scrubbing the fingers.

– Change gloves daily, washing them thoroughly, and avoid wearing damp gloves.

– Do not re-use a mask. Masks have limited utility. Instead, stay away from crowds, and keep a distance of a half metre from individual people. If someone is coughing or sneezing, ask them to put on a mask, and if they don’t, step a meter away from them, or leave.

– Don’t shake hands or hug people; tell them it’s better for both of you not to come in close contact during an epidemic.

– Inside your house, clean and dry towels twice a week and put the names of family members on them so you don’t use each other’s towels.

– Be careful with doorknobs, stairway banisters, MRT straps and stanchions, desktops, mobile phones, toys, laptops, cooking tools or any objects that are hand-held. Wash doorknobs regularly if someone in the house is ill. Wash your hands if you handle others’ devices.

– If you share meals, take food out of the communal dish and put it on your plate and eat with your own utensil.

– Do not buy, slaughter, or consume any live animal or fish until it is known what species was the source of the virus.

– When the weather allows, open your windows at home or work, letting your space air out. The virus cannot linger in a well-ventilated space.

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