The world has gone into Pandemic mode in an attempt to shut down the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) before the spread worsens. The CDC says to stay calm and wash your hands. But is there anything else you can do, besides looking suspiciously at anyone who dares cough or sniffle in your midst?
It may feel like the infected world is closing in, especially when you’re working from an office (or grocery store) or other environments where you must come in contact with others on a daily basis.
There are a few things you should know about coronavirus symptoms, and what you can do to help keep yourself (and others) healthy in the workplace.
Common symptoms of coronavirus
COVID-19 has been exhibiting itself around the world with symptoms similar to the flu. The World Health Organization listed the most common symptoms as:
Shortness of breath
However, this list is not comprehensive, and some people have reported headaches, diarrhea, etc. So if you are feeling under the weather at all, it’s best to self-quarantine and pay attention to your health to protect others and yourself.
Health officials are still trying to determine if asymptomatic individuals are able to spread the virus. There is some indication that it’s possible that the disease can spread from people who are not sick and don’t exhibit any symptoms.
Staying healthy in the workplace
Follow these simple tips to take control of your health and safety, and to be a responsible coworker (and citizen) to the people around you.
Wash your hands
Get good at washing your hands--and washing often (per CDC guidelines and below). It’s one of the key ways you can stop the spread of the sickness. (Also, practicing social distancing and reducing unnecessary contact with others is critical as well).
Follow these five steps every time you wash your hands.
Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather hands by rubbing them together with soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. (Watch this fun handwashing tutorial.
Scrub hands for 20 seconds (or more!).
Rinse hands under clean, running water. Use your elbow or a napkin/towel to turn off the faucet.
Air dry your hands or use a clean towel to dry them.
Use a paper napkin to open the restroom door (and if you must touch the door handle, use hand sanitizer when you get back to your desk).
If you’re not feeling well, stay home
It’s important to tune in to your health. If you start to have any symptoms, or even just have cold-like symptoms, stay home. Don’t endanger lives. Aside from hand washing, one of the key things you can do to help stop the spread of a potential virus is to stay away from others when you aren’t feeling well.
Self-quarantine if you may have been in contact with the coronavirus
If you have a fever or any flu-like symptoms, or if you know you’ve been in close proximity to someone diagnosed with coronavirus, do the right thing and self-quarantine yourself for 14 days. Avoid close contact with anyone. The CDC recommends limiting activities outside the home for 14 days as you wait for symptoms to subside and the virus to pass. If it gets worse, call your doctor and seek medical care (wear a facemask if you’re sick when visiting the doctor to avoid spreading the virus). Just don’t panic. For the majority of cases, self-quarantine is adequate for recovery.
Talk to your boss about working from home
Many employers are now allowing or even encouraging their employees to work from home. Discuss the options with your boss. The fewer people anyone has to come in contact with these days, the better for all.
Maintain distance between yourself and coworkers
While six feet is the ideal distance to keep between yourself and anyone who could be infected with coronavirus to ensure droplets don’t transport from them to you, even if you can’t manage six feet, just make sure to put as much space as you can between yourself and others.
Avoid handshakes and hugs
The virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. So even if you yourself don’t have the coronavirus, you can still spread it to others by touching infected surfaces and then shaking a hand. And you can spread it to yourself by touching your face (eyes, mouth, nose) after touching infected surfaces. In the current environment, elbow bumps are perfectly acceptable, and in fact show that you are actually listening to what the health professionals are saying (and valuing the health of yourself and others). You can also nod your head or give a slight bow, or try placing your hand over your heart as you express pleasure at meeting someone new.
Disinfect your workspace
If your employer hasn’t already provided sanitizing wipes like Clorox, Lysol or alcohol-based wipes, get some to keep at your desk. Wipe down your workspace surfaces, phone (including mobile), keyboard, mouse, staples, rulers--anything you touch. For further guidance for proper disinfecting, follow these guidelines from the CDC.
As the news unfolds with more updates, employers may be more amenable to you working from home, if possible. Stay informed, safe and panic-free by talking to your employer to see what types of precautions they’re putting in place to combat the virus in the workplace.