During the COVID-19 pandemic, DR. TED LANKESTER from our network is available to answer your questions. Below are 11 'Frequently Asked Questions'. Do you have a question that's not answered here? Email him:ted [at] arukahnetwork [dot] org.
1. How do I separate truth from myth?
Dangerous myths and “whacky ideas” are growing by the day. Some are listed by the World Health Organisation here. But do also read Jake’s blog on the subject. One problem is that true and fake are often mixed together, so we sometimes need to look at each part of what we read to check it seems to be science-based.
2. How can I take care of my mental health?
Enjoying nature even from our windows can be a huge blessing: seeing or hearing a new or favourite bird, or a beautiful flower. You can also grow plants inside and watching them grow day by day. There are some good ideas here and you might also like to listen to this How To Build Community podcast with a crisis expert.
3. Who is at highest risk of this illness?
Most of us who catch Covid-19 will have a mild illness or no symptoms at all. But not everyone. This website names some of the higher risk groups, but also gives examples of what we can do to reduce our risk.
4. What can I do to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus?
These are the essentials:
Always wash your hands when you get home or into work and before eating, for at least 20 seconds. Here's some clear advice.
Wash with soap, and if it's not available then use hand sanitiser (at least 60% alcohol).
When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands). Put any used tissues ideally into a bin or dispose of immediately, and then wash your hands afterwards.
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
Keep at least 2 metres away from others, apart from those with whom you are living. If this is not always possible, do your best to keep as much distance as you can.
Follow the detailed official scientific health advice from your government about current instructions, realising that politicians may sometimes give varying opinions.
5. How do I find out how many cases and deaths there are in my country?
You can see up-to-date information here. Note that the number of confirmed cases will usually be far less than the actual number of cases, because not everyone who gets Covid-19 will be tested. The number of deaths is a far more useful guide. It’s also helpful to check if the deaths per day is tending to go up or down - that will give you an idea of how things are where you live. Eventually they will all go down!
6. Should I wear a mask?
There’s a lot of confusion about this, and experts are currently reassessing what the answer should be. There are worries that with so many of us buying face masks, there will not be enough for the health workers who need them the most. Wearing a mask, unless put on carefully as described in the website below, can increase the risk by touching your face. Up-to-date advice is here.
7. What can I do to help plan things at home?
Managing a household is natural for some, but not for all. I found this list quite helpful - hopefully you will too.
8. How should I clean my home?
The virus can remain active outside of the body for many hours, especially on hard surfaces. This means we need routines to keep clean, especially if we're at risk or we've been in contact with those who may be infected. However, with the fear epidemic spreading in the media, it's easy to become obsessed with doing a wide variety of actions that make little difference. Here is some sensible advice.
9. What exercises can I do when stuck at home?
For many, we can still go to a park or nearby area for walking, running or cycling. But for some, that is now difficult, if not possible. But exercise is still vitally important. Weight lifting, sit ups, press/push ups or “running on the spot” are all good, and here are some more creative examples. And how about dancing to your favourite music - hoping others in your family share the same taste!
10. COVID-19 in slums: what can be done?
'Social distancing' works well in more affluent countries, but will not be possible in slums. One idea is 'shielding', which means separating the most vulnerable people and caring for them in community centres or schools. Soap is also so important, but many can’t get hold of it. If you are able to get supplies to the poorest communities, slums, IDP and refugee camps, that could make a difference. More information here.
11. Where can I find more information?
The Johns Hopkins Centre is one of the best sources of information, as well as the websites linked to above. A word of warning: we can all get so interested and obsessed by Covid-19 that it increases our stress, so my message is to spend most of your time not thinking about Coronavirus!
Do you have questions that aren't answered here? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.