How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus


Nigeria recorded its first case of the new coronavirus on Friday, February 28, 20202.

The government has assured Nigerians of its readiness to contain the disease, stressing that the risk to individuals remains low.

With the world on alert, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other relevant institutions have issued guidance on how to protect yourself and others from getting the disease, now officially named COVID-19 – CO for corona, VI for virus, D for disease and 19 for the year it emerged.

Wash your hands

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water – or a hand sanitiser gel as an alternative – will remove viruses and bacteria from your hands.

“Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer,” says Health Minister, Dr Osagie Ehanire

Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands

If you have a virus and you sneeze or cough into your hands, the droplets in your sneeze or cough then contaminate your hands, and you will then contaminate objects or people that you touch.

You are advised to instead cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve, or to cough or sneeze into a flexed elbow.

Tissues should be discarded immediately into a closed bin and hands cleaned with soap and water or a hand sanitiser gel.

Keep your distance

Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

The WHO recommends maintaining at least one metre (three feet) between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.

If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus if an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Your hands may touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus.

If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

Stay home if you feel unwell

If you experience any symptoms such as a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. The WHO advises following the directions of your local health authority.

Take care with animals or animal products when visiting markets

The WHO recommends regular hand washing with soap and water after touching animals and animal products when visiting markets, as well as to avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.

They also say to avoid contact with sick animals or spoiled animal products and to avoid contact with potentially contaminated animal waste or fluids.

Avoiding consumption of raw or undercooked animal products is also recommended, as well as following good food safety practices.

However, at present, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with coronavirus.

Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets to protect against common bacteria.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Its main symptoms are:

A cough

A high temperature

Shortness of breath

There is not yet a specific treatment for COVID-19, although scientists are working on a vaccine.

Please call the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) toll-free number – 0800970000-10 – which is available day and night, for guidance.

Do not engage in self-medication.