17 March 2020 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to stay healthy and protect yourself

Is all the talk about the novel coronavirus making you nervous? Here’s what you need to know about it.
 
For many, getting sick inevitably occurs with our Malaysian weather being very unpredictable. But with so much talk about the coronavirus going around, you may start to feel concerned.
 
True, the latest coronavirus – called COVID-19 – is more serious than the common flu and the amount of media coverage and attention around the disease can be worrying.
 
So what can you do to stay calm, prepared and alert right now? Get a clear understanding of your risk level, practice some simple healthy habits and look to trusted sources for advice.
 
To start, here's a quick breakdown of how COVID-19 started, its symptoms and risks to Malaysians.
 
What is coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
 
In December 2019, there were a number of reported cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. The cause was later confirmed as a new coronavirus termed COVID-19. Since then, health officials have reported thousands of infections with COVID-19 in China. It wasn't long until other countries began reporting outbreaks as well.
 
What are the common coronavirus symptoms?
Some coronaviruses spread between animals and some between animals and human. Others can spread from human to human. Some of its symptoms include the following:
 
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • coughing
  • sore throat
  • fever and/or
  • a general feeling of being unwell
 
Are Malaysians at risk of coronavirus?
Yes, Malaysia has reported numerous cases of COVID-19. In addition, COVID-19 has emerged in many other countries around the world.
 
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has advised all Malaysians to ensure all preventive measures are taken including maintaining a high-level of personal hygiene at all times to reduce the risk of infection.
 
Are Malaysians travelling abroad at risk?
The MOH has encouraged all Malaysians to postpone non-essential travel to regions and cities that have been declared with COVID-19 outbreaks. If the trip cannot be postponed, then do ensure that all preventive measures such as wearing surgical masks are taken. 
 
How to protect yourself from the coronavirus?
With the COVID-19 situation rapidly changing everyday, make sure you stay calm, healthy and prepared with a few simple tips* below.
 
1. Wash your hands regularly
Wash your hands every two to three hours, using proper hand-washing techniques. Use lots of soap and hot water, and be sure to rub vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds. During emergencies, you can still practise good hygiene by cleaning your hands with hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol-based solution.
 
2. Clean your surroundings
Whether you are at home or work, try to maintain a clean living space. Use disinfecting wipes on tables, kitchen surfaces, desks, telephones and anything else you frequently touch.
 
3. Keep away from common areas when you can
Avoid touching commonly shared surfaces such as washroom doorknobs, kitchen counters, or stair railings as much as possible.
 
4. Don't touch your face with unclean hands
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth whenever possible.
 
5. Practise self-care and eat healthy foods
Take care of yourself by getting lots of rest, staying hydrated, exercising regularly and making an effort to eat more fresh fruits and veggies. All these steps can help to boost your immune system and allow your body to better fight the germs that cause illnesses.
 
6. Open windows (if you can)
If you are at home or office and the weather is favourable, open your windows to get some fresh air circulating.
 
7. See a doctor or qualified health professional
Do you feel concerned about any cold and flu symptoms you're experiencing? Consult your doctor or a qualified health-care provider. The sooner you get treatment, the faster you'll recover.
 
8. Stay at home if you get sick
Ask your employer if they have any clear policies and procedures in place for global health events like COVID-19. Some employers may insist that you stay at home or work from home if you're feeling sick or experiencing symptoms of coronavirus. Other employers and companies recommend self-isolation for a certain amount of time if you:
 
  • have recently travelled to a country with a coronavirus outbreak or
  • have been in contact with someone who's travelled to a country with a coronavirus outbreak
 
Consult your HR department for more info.
 
9. Don't panic and get accurate information
Hearing about the spread of coronavirus in the news can feel daunting. But try not to panic. Think of it in the same way that you would when facing a bad weather situation. In case it happens, you want to be prepared and alert. This means looking to trusted sources for advice on what to do if an outbreak happens in your community.
 
We recommend visiting the following sites for the latest updates and also check out some of the information we have created on various topics relevant to COVID-19:
 
Official organisations:
World Health Organisation
Ministry of Health Malaysia
 
Useful COVID-19 content to help you manage this situation better:
  1. Coronavirus mythbusters: Getting your facts right!
  2. Practicing good hygiene
  3. Matters of the mask
  4. Special client measures for COVID-19
  5. Guide to washing your hands and using a face mask
  6. Dispelling COVID-19 myths
 
Always check out our Health Plans available for you too!
 
* Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public from the World Health Organisation

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