While public health restrictions continue to ease around the world, concern remains about the potential for a second ‘wave’ or peak of COVID-19 infections.
Different territories continue to adapt and adjust their plans as they try to enable society to return to some normality. However it is likely that additional measures or ‘localised’ lockdowns will need to be re-introduced in certain locations. Indeed some places such as Shulan in China have already had to bring back stringent lockdown measures to try and contain further outbreaks.
It’s therefore important that everyone continues to stay vigilant and adhere to up to date public health advice in your community. However it remains true that our best defence against infection is our behaviour as individuals.
If you're returning to work or experiencing the easing of restrictions in your local area, our latest blog looks at some of the measures you can take to reduce your family’s exposure to COVID-19 and help play your part in preventing a second wave of infection.
Basic Hygiene Standards Are Paramount
When COVID-19 first came to the world’s attention there were three main pieces of advice:
- Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds. If you’re unable to do this, carry anti-bacterial hand sanitiser and apply this regularly instead.
- Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth, as much as possible.
- If you sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue. Immediately dispose of the tissue, then wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze into your sleeve at the elbow.
This advice which we shared in our initial COVID-19 guide remains strongly recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and these continue to be the three most important things you can do. By maintaining high personal hygiene standards, not only do you protect yourself but also those around you.
As well as practising your own personal hygiene, you should encourage others to follow suit. Don’t be afraid to speak up if someone you know is breaching one of these three important personal hygiene practices.
Avoid Crowded Places
If there appears to be a second wave of COVID-19 develop we can expect to see crowd control measures tightened again. However, you can protect yourself now from a higher risk of infection by avoiding crowded places, particularly those locations where it is not easy to keep social distancing of at least one metre.
If you live in a location where bars, restaurants, and other social hubs are starting to re-open, think carefully about how and when you plan to meet friends and family members. In many places, establishments that do not adapt to allow for social distancing will not re-open or will face repercussions if they contravene the rules.
While bars and restaurants can place tables and chairs far apart, or use screens to separate groups of people, they won’t be able to police every individual’s behaviour. Remember that awareness of and adherence to social distancing is likely to reduce as people start to relax or consume alcohol. It’s therefore important that if you do go out you are vigilant of others around you and ensure you stay safe.
Wearing Protective Kit Isn’t Essential, But Can Make You Feel Safer
One of the biggest debates during the COVID-19 pandemic has been around the impact of wearing protective kit, such as a face mask. Some Asian countries where wearing a face mask was commonplace before COVID-19 have seen relatively low infection rates and been held up as an example of best practice. Indeed some countries have recently made the wearing of masks mandatory in certain public places.
As of May 2020, the current general WHO guidance is that members of the public do not need to wear a mask unless they are caring for someone who has COVID-19. WHO also suggests wearing a mask if you're coughing and sneezing yourself, even if it is due to a condition such as hay fever rather than COVID-19. The WHO also asserts that wearing masks and other items of protective kit is only useful if you maintain regular hand washing and follow the additional personal hygiene guidance.
However you may feel more comfortable by investing in your own protective kit, particularly if you are travelling to and from work on public transport. Check local guidelines and do what feels right for you. Remember that wearing a face mask not only helps you to avoid infections, but can also help those who are asymptomatic from accidentally spreading the virus to the vulnerable.
Remember that if you do choose to wear protective equipment you should wash your hands before and after use. You must also ensure you dispose of protective items effectively to avoid anyone picking up an infection from their surfaces.
Work from Home if You Can
Working from home is another factor that will help to reduce a second wave of infections. If you're not leaving the house, you're less likely into contact with infected people or surfaces.
Your employer may allow you to continue to work from home if it is possible to do so. Otherwise you may be able to speak to your line manager to discuss continued working from home, at least for part of the time.
How to Avoid a Second Wave of COVID-19
Irrespective of whether there’s a global second wave or a local re-emergence of COVID-19 where you live, doing all you can to avoid personal infection remains essential. Just because restrictions are easing does not mean you should let your guard down.
Ultimately the more of us that continue to follow these guidelines, the lower the overall case numbers and infection rate will be, helping the global community get back to some form of normality as quickly as possible. Stay safe all and don’t forget to keep washing your hands!