Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month, you’ll have heard about the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Our gym in Lowestoft seems quite a distance from what’s happening elsewhere in the world right now but that could change with the news later tonight. I have heard from gym owners I know in the US who have chosen to close their doors for the time being and some who have been forced to close by their state or county.

While a lot of people who read this aren’t at great risk from the virus, we all know older adults, we all know someone with CFS or ME, we all know someone whose health isn’t quite as good as ours. While there’s no need for us to go out and loot stores for loo roll, we should all be mindful of how our actions will affect others.

Practical tips for keeping yourself, and those you care about, safe during the coming weeks and months include:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Eating well
  • Limiting unnecessary travel
  • Limiting your contact with vulnerable populations
  • Self isolating if you think you’re affected

Effectively, your best defense is wellness. Don’t push yourself too hard, don’t undervalue the importance of sleep, and aim to keep close personal contact to a minimum.

There’s a fair chance that COVID-19 will become widespread in the population despite everyone’s best efforts simply due to the nature of viruses, if that happens you want to be fit and healthy to fight it.

Keeping yourself safe in public places

At this point it is more the duty of the infected to isolate than it is for everyone else to avoid the rest of society however we should still take precautions as it appears that the coronavirus doesn’t always even produce symptoms1.

The owners of businesses have a duty of care to their customers and businesses across the world are increasing the frequency of cleaning, providing practical advice and even closing when necessary.

If you want to take an extra step, pull the sleeve of your jumper or coat over the palm of your hand when opening doors in high traffic areas and do your best not to get coughed on.

Can’t find any hand sanitiser?

Unfortunately, every crisis has its idiots. They’re probably feeling pretty smug in their toilet roll fortresses surrounded by their hand sanitiser moats, however you don’t need to worry. Hand sanitisers are convenient but washing your hands will generally do a better job2.

Wipe down the bars and handles of gym equipment before and after use in the gym and limit hand-to-hand contact when out in public and you’ll be as safe as possible. Modern technology means that you can pay for goods with your card or your phone without needing to exchange anything.

I can’t help you with the toilet roll situation though.. Good luck out there.

References

  1. Cohen, Elizabeth. “Infected people without symptoms might be driving the spread of coronavirus more than we realized”, CNN, 14th March 2020 (https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/14/health/coronavirus-asymptomatic-spread/index.html). [accessed 15th March 2020].
  2. Hirose, Ryohei, et al. “Situations leading to reduced effectiveness of current hand hygiene against infectious mucus from influenza virus-infected patients.” mSphere 4.5 (2019): e00474-19.

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