Severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which causes the disease COVID-19 was first identified in the city Wuhan, China in 2019 and spread to the entire globe thereafter. As of 12th May 2020, 4 million-plus confirmed positive cases, and 2.8 lakhs deaths were recorded.
There is no vaccine and no proper treatment for COVID-19 currently. Older people and people with certain underlying conditions like asthma, diabetes, chronic heart disease, liver disease, etc, are facing severe illness when affected by COVID-19. So, most of the countries entered complete or partial lockdown to curb the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.
As the studies are progressing, the more complex ways of the virus affecting the body were observed. So, individuals protecting themselves and the family against the virus play a crucial role in fighting the virus.
Why protection is important
There is no vaccine/treatment for the virus and everyday prevention and precautionary measures are a must to fight this pandemic.
Everyone protecting themselves ultimately participates in the strategy to prevent the spread of the virus. People with certain underlying medical conditions have severe outcomes, so, protection from the virus is crucial.
Individuals can reduce their chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions. As the saying goes, ‘Charity begins at home’, preventive measures must be taken in every household.
Simple hygienic measures can help individuals protect their health, their family’s health, and everyone else’s.
- Avoid touching the mouth, nose, and eyes. People touch many surfaces and can pick the viruses.
- Don’t cough or sneeze into the hands. Cover the mouth and nose with the elbow or tissue while coughing or sneezing and dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- People should self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever until recovery.
- Thoroughly and frequently washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer -this kills the virus that may be present on the hands.
Cleaning around the house
Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, door handles, etc) of the house which will reduce the risk of infection.
It is still unclear for how long the coronavirus can survive on fabric. If clothes contain plastic or metal, the virus might survive for a few hours to several days.
- Shoes must be removed before entering the house when returning home from crowded places.
- Clean bedsheets, towels and clothes regularly and thoroughly.
- Don’t shake dirty laundry – it may spread the virus through the air
- Wash the clothes with soap or detergent using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely. These steps kill the virus if any.
- Wash hands with alcohol-based sanitizer or with soap and water immediately.
Preparing and handling food
Currently, there is no evidence of people catching COVID-19 from food or food packaging.
- Wash the hands thoroughly with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds before preparing any food.
- Remove any unnecessary packaging on food if any, and dispose of them.
- Always clean plates and utensils before using them.
Maintain at least 2 meters(or 6 feet) distance from others. When individuals affected with coronavirus cough, sneeze or speak, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If people are too close, they can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person is a carrier.
At home, people must follow good respiratory hygiene, which means covering the nose and mouth with bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue immediately and washing hands. People should seek medical attention if they have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
How soap works in killing the coronavirus
We do not have a vaccine for COVID-19, yet. However, surprising as it may sound, it is true that soap can kill the virus particles.
The coronavirus has a membrane of oily lipid molecules which is studded with proteins that help the virus enter host cells and spread the infection. Soap is a mixture of amphiphiles. These molecules have a dual nature. One side of the soap molecules has a hydrophilic head (attracts water) and the other side has a hydrophobic head (attracts fats and oil). When people wash their hands with soap and water, the soap molecules cover the viruses present on the hand/skin. The hydrophobic end of the soap molecules wedge themselves into the lipid membrane of the virus and pry it apart. This results in the rupture of the membrane and spills the essential proteins of the virus. Micelles can also form around particles of dirt and fragments of viruses, suspending them in floating cages. The damaged, trapped, and killed microorganisms are washed away when rinsed with water.
Yes, it is true – washing hands with soap and water can save you from COVID-19.