The novel coronavirus (COVID-19)’s fast spread across the globe prompted the World Health Organization to officially declare it a pandemic on March 11, 2020. This classification means the number of cases, deaths and affected countries are expected to increase across the world, and further highlights the importance of everyone playing their part in combating and containing the virus. We’ve put together a guide on how you, a member of the public, can protect yourself and your community from COVID-19.

This guide contains information about:

  1. Knowing the virus
  2. Taking precautionary measures
  3. Creating a plan
  4. Keeping informed

Step 1: Know the virus

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause respiratory infections. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  • From person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales.
  • Through infected droplets that land on objects and surfaces around the infected person that other people touch.
  • Through people touching infected objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Fever (80-90% of cases): body temperature over 38.3°C. This is the major symptom, sometimes accompanied by chills. More common in adults than children.
  • Cough (59-82% of cases): usually dry.
  • Respiratory issues/breathing difficulties (31-55% of cases): appears on average 5-8 days after the first symptoms of the disease.
  • Tiredness

What groups are at risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19?

  • Older people
  • Those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes

Step 2: Take Precautionary Measures

Clean your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after: blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and after you’ve been to a public place. Download our hand washing guide here.
  • If soap and water are unavailable, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) using the same hand washing technique.

Practice respiratory hygiene

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing to avoid spreading germs
  • Throw away the used tissues in a lined trash can immediately after use.
  • Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)

Avoid touching your face

Hands carry almost all the germs into the respiratory tract. By not touching your face, you are reducing your chances of transferring the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth and falling ill.

Clean surfaces often

Clean high touch surfaces such as door handles, drawer/cabinet handles, fridge/freezer handles, light/fan switches, counters, tabletops, bathroom fixtures, keyboards, tablets, phones, remote controls, etc every day.

Wash your hands before and after cleaning these surfaces, and where possible, wear gloves while cleaning.

You can use any of the following cleaning solutions:

If unsure of the measurements, err on the side of making the solution slightly stronger than weaker as a weaker solution will not be as effective in killing germs

Avoid close physical contact

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick or exhibiting symptoms
  • Put physical distance (at least 3 ft) between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community

Stay home

  • Stay home and maintain physical distance. If you can work from home, do so.
  • Definitely stay home if you feel ill and/or if you begin exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19
  • Inform your doctor of your symptoms via calls or messages. Do not go into the hospital unless advised to do so or you may risk getting others sick
  • Follow your care plan. See section below for advice on planning for yourself/household
  • Contact your public health authorities
Lagos State Ministry of Health
Hotlines: 08000CORONA (Toll-Free), 08023169485, 08033565529, 08052817243, 08028971864, 08059758886, 08035387653
NCDC
Hotlines: Call 080097000010 (Toll-Free), 07036708970; SMS: 08099555577; WhatsApp: 07087110839;

Step 3: Create a plan for yourself, household and loved ones

It is possible that you or a member of your family/household may fall ill during this period, or may be restricted from leaving your homes. Make a plan to care for yourself or for them should that happen.

Buy essential food items

Do not panic buy, but stock up on about 2 weeks worth of food. In regions without regular power supply, purchase non-perishable or slow to perish food categories like:

  • dried foods (garri, beans, rice, pasta, nuts)
  • tubers (yam, irish potatoes, sweet potatoes)
  • canned goods (sardines, peas, sweet corn, tomatoes)
  • sources of protein (eggs, dried meat/fish)
  • condiments (dried pepper, crayfish, ketchup, cooking oil, peanut butter)
  • aromatics (ginger, garlic, onions)
  • snacks (plantain chips, biscuits)
  • provisions (cereal, powdered milk, chocolate beverage)
  • drinking water

Buy essential household items

Do not hoard, but purchase two-weeks worth of essential household items like:

  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • cleaning supplies/disinfectants
  • laundry detergent
  • Hand soap and hand sanitizer
  • personal hygiene items (bathing soap, toothpaste, sanitary pads/tampons)

Refill prescriptions and buy essential medications

  • If you or someone in your household has a chronic condition or uses prescription medications, be sure to get them filled so you have at least two weeks worth on hand.
  • Also buy medication to manage the symptoms of the common flu should anyone fall ill
  • Fever and pain medication (Ibuprofen and paracetamol)
  • Cough and cold medication
  • Decongestants
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Thermometer

Talk with people you might want to include in your plan

  • Whether you are living with family or with friends/flatmates, discuss your household plan for this period to ensure you all know what to do should the time arise.
  • If you are living away from loved ones, speak to them about their plan and ensure they have the right information
  • Get to know your neighbours so you/them can have support should you/they need it

Plan to care whoever falls sick

Read our guide on caring for yourself and caring for others should you fall ill. The highlights are:

  • Stay home
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Separate yourself from others in your home (including pets)
  • Take all the precautionary measures listed above
  • Monitor your symptoms

Other resources for this purpose can be found on here, here and here

Know how to contact your public health officials

Lagos State Ministry of Health
Hotlines: 08000CORONA (Toll-Free), 08023169485, 08033565529, 08052817243, 08028971864, 08059758886, 08035387653
NCDC
Hotlines: Call 080097000010 (Toll-Free), 07036708970; SMS: 08099555577; WhatsApp: 07087110839;

Step 4: Stay informed

Follow verified sources for status updates

Use verified resources for additional information

Sources like the NCDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Public Health, and Harvard Medical School have a wealth of resources you should explore.