Current statistics compiled by the Worldometers website (worldometers.info/coronavirus/) indicate that there have been over 60,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, resulting in over 1,300+ deaths.
The silver lining to this pandemic cloud is the fact that over 6,000 people have recovered from the virus. So, there is hope.
The truth of the matter is that while we should be optimistic, the situation may be bleaker than we believe it to be.
While the World Health Organization may have renamed the coronavirus as COVID-19 to prevent stigmatisation, this politically-correct gesture will have no impact on the threat.
With the Chinese government's tendency toward secrecy and skewing the stats to make the situation look more favorable, the death toll may be much higher and the problem infinitely more severe than portrayed.
* Why is the Coronavirus Declared as a Pandemic?
This is a pandemic because it has spread worldwide. Unlike epidemics which are contained in one specific location, a pandemic crosses borders without a care in the world and infects anyone who may cross its path.
You have to be alert and take extra precautions to stay safe. At the moment, there is no cure for the coronavirus. Creating a vaccine will take time and a lot of money and by the time one is found, it may be too late anyway.
* Can You Really Stay Safe?
The best way to avoid the problem will be to act proactively and take a few extra measures. At the moment, we've not reached a widespread pandemic that's grounds for panic yet.
Hoarding food, water, etc. is not that much of a concern. However, in several Asian countries, most surgical and N95 masks have been snapped up and are currently sold out. The same applies to hand sanitizers, disinfectants, etc.
The truth of the matter is that depending on the severity of the pandemic, these measures may be helpful at reducing the risks. No method is 100 percent safe, and if the virus is airborne, preventing it will become infinitely more difficult.
This is especially true for office buildings, malls, and any other place that uses ventilation systems, air conditioning, etc. This can "aerosolize" the airborne virus and make it spread faster and infect more people.
* So, What Do I Do Now???
The good news is that the coronavirus seems to only show limited signs of being airborne, or at least that's what the Chinese authorities are saying. Whatever the case may be, there are a few precautionary measures you can take to mitigate your risks.
The basic principles of staying safe apply regardless of the pandemic. It could be Ebola, SARS, Zika or the coronavirus, the tips below will still apply.
1. Avoid crowds
This is the first and most important step of the lot. The less contact you have with other human beings, the lower your risks will be. This is common sense.
Avoid crowded places as much as you can. If you work in an office, you may request to work from home temporarily. Your boss just might allow it.
Less people. Less contact. Less risk, That's your mantra.
2. Wear protective gear (if you have any)
While N95 masks are a bit of an overkill, using the normal surgical mask will help reduce your risk of infection. The key word here is "reduce". No mask is fool proof.
If masks are sold out, you may fold a handkerchief and use it as a precautionary measure.
Will this help?
To some degree, it will.
If someone coughs or sneezes near you, the little droplets flying around will be stopped by your "makeshift" cloth mask. That's about the only time the cloth mask helps.
Always wash cloth masks in boiling water with a dash of bleach or disinfectant before reusing them.
3. Do NOT touch your face, nose or eyes
This is one of the BIGGEST mistakes that people inadvertently make.
You'll come into contact with countless surfaces when you're out in public. Public transport handles and seats, restaurant tables, chairs, etc. are all common spaces that you'll come into contact with depending on what you're doing.
When you touch these surfaces, any bacteria/viruses there may get transferred unto your hands. Do NOT touch your face. This is the easiest way to infect yourself. You must be situationally aware at all times.
4. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly
Several doctors say that regular handwashing is far more effective than wearing masks. Some say it's even more advantageous than using commercially-sold hand sanitizers.
The fact that you're more likely to get infected from surfaces covered with droplets emitted by someone who is infected (because you touched the surfaces and then your face), the best safety measure is to wash your hands regularly.
Everything from the utensils you use to your mobile phone, keys, steering wheel in your car, etc. comes in contact with your hands.
So, it's best to keep them as clean as possible.
If you have no access to water, use hand sanitizers.
5. Do not track bacteria into your home
Another area people often overlook is the fact that they can invite bacteria into their home without even realizing it.
Do NOT wear shoes into your home. This is the surest way to not only bring bacteria into your home, but also cause a myriad of other health problems such as allergies, etc.
If you have pets and walk them outside, remember to wash your pet's paws when you get home. Do not let your dog/cat wander in and out of the house as it pleases.
One common mistake that many people make is to get home from work and just plonk themselves down on the couch. Some even sit on their bed when they step into the rooms. DO NOT make this mistake.
You're still wearing clothes that came into contact with public surfaces. Remove your clothes and put them in the laundry (which you'll wash with detergent and disinfectant later).
Only sit on your couch or bed once you've showered. It may be a hassle, but it's a necessary measure to stay safe.
6. Strengthen your immune system
There's a reason some people survive the virus and some don't. Oftentimes, it will come down to how strong your immune system is.
If you do get infected, your immune system may be your last hope.
If it's strong, your chances of survival will be much higher.
Consume vitamin C, fish oil, curcumin, garlic oil, zinc, selenium and vitamin D supplements. These will help to boost your immunity and give your body a fighting chance to boot the virus out should it decide to take you on.
7. See a doctor
Besides the coronavirus, there are tons of other influenza strains going around. Since the symptoms are mostly the same, only a qualified doctor will be able to diagnose your condition accurately.
Since these are dangerous pandemic times, do not try to self-treat yourself if you notice you have flu symptoms. Swallowing two aspirin tablets with a diet soda and calling it a day is NOT an option.
Get checked by a medical professional immediately. Time is of the essence.
Early detection will help to check the spread of the virus and you'll be less likely to infect those you come into contact with.
If you're not infected, but just down with the common cold, do take a few days off work and stay home to rest and recuperate. Your immune system will be compromised and you don't want to be outside where you could get infected with something worse.
You'll also be less likely to pass on your contagious flu to others. Stay home until you're well. Period.
8. Keep your living areas clean
There's a saying that goes, "Nothing inspires cleanliness more than an unexpected guest." It's humorous, but true.
In this case, however, we're keeping the house clean to PREVENT unexpected "virus guests". Vacuum your house daily and mop your floors with water that has been mixed with disinfectant/bleach. This will help eradicate any bacteria around.
You may choose to use an air purifier to clean the air in your household too.
Very often, during a widespread pandemic, the stores may not have anymore disinfectant or bleach. If this is the case, guess what?
Alcohol will do too. Vodka or gin is effective for wiping surfaces too.
The higher the proof, the better. Just make sure you don't get high on your own supply.
9. Stay calm
Last but not least, stay calm. Do not panic or rush to hoard items. You can and should stock up on non-perishable items like a responsible prepper, but do it gradually. You do not have to wildly grab everything you can get your hands on.
Stay positive and know that several potential pandemics prior to the coronavirus have been effectively contained. This one will be probably be no different.
Do not stress yourself out or get paranoid. When you're stressed, your immune system is lower and you're at a higher risk.
Follow the tips above and you'll be much safer during this coronavirus "climate".
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Benjamin Franklin