For a brief moment, the COVID-19 lockdown situation across the world didn’t seem like it was going to let up anytime soon. That was certainly the case for Malaysia, but on 7 June, the Prime Minister announced that we would be moving into the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) phase. Business and services would resume activity in phases starting 10 June, and Malaysians would be able to go back to our everyday lives, but, of course, with strict SOPs in place.
In our haste to revert to our known state of ‘normal’, it is easy to let slip the practices we adopted during the quarantine months to ensure our health and safety. These practices are important now more than ever to minimise the risk of us contracting COVID-19 when we’re back out in the world.
We don’t know when – or even if – COVID-19 will be eradicated, but until then, here are some plays to keep you one step ahead of this deadly opponent, and moving forward in this new version of the game of life.
1. Keep to your hygiene and safety routines
This pandemic’s holy grail of wearing masks, washing hands, cleaning outside items, and social distancing should already be second nature to us. Those of us who are going back to school or work are forced to be around a large number of people on our daily commute, within enclosed spaces like classrooms and offices, and even in brief interactions with various vendors or service providers.
For this reason, you should always have a face mask handy. You should also try to maintain social distancing measures – remain six feet apart from people as much as possible. Be aware of public surfaces like handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, and try your best to not touch them. If you absolutely have to, make sure you have some hand sanitiser ready for immediate use, and when possible, wash your hands thoroughly.
Last but not least, remember that personal belongings like your phone, wallet, keys, and bag are always in your hands or resting on public surfaces that could possibly be contaminated. Remember to spray them down with a disinfectant before you bring them back into your home.
2. Keep updated on the daily stats
Just because everything has opened up, that doesn’t mean all is right in the world. Staying updated with case numbers, recovery rates, death tolls, and other important COVID-19-related information in your country will help you stay alert and safe.
In Malaysia, news sites like The Star keep readers abreast on the situation here in Malaysia. Their daily updates include numbers for new cases, recoveries, and deaths, as well as the distribution of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days in all states and territories across the nation. If social media is your go-to medium for Malaysian news and information, The Malay Mail keeps their followers updated with case roundup posts around the same time every day.
3. Keep socialising to a minimum
Besides missing our loved ones during the lockdown, we missed the simple pleasure of being able to go out and be social whenever we wanted. Now that things have started opening again, people have been quick to go back to hanging out in public spaces, dining out, and even gathering with family and friends.
As the saying goes, ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. We’re not saying you can’t meet up with people, or that you shouldn’t have some semblance of your social life back. Just mindfully keep these activities to a bare minimum, because we certainly haven’t flattened the curve all the way just yet. All it takes is one person to be exposed to the coronavirus for them to get sick and/or infect others around them. You don’t want to be the one to start a new infection cluster, do you?
4. Keep potentially risky activities and encounters to a minimum
This might be easier said than done. Going out shopping, getting a haircut, eating at a restaurant, riding the train or bus, and other activities that require you to be in enclosed spaces over prolonged periods increases your risk of contracting COVID-19. Poorly-ventilated spaces, as well as extended periods of close contact with an infected person, also add to this risk. Whatever time you may need to spend in such situations should be cut down, and protective measures such as wearing a face mask, not touching surfaces, and social distancing should be practiced as much as possible.
5. Keep healthy
All the steps you take to prevent contracting COVID-19 won’t mean anything if you don’t take care of your body itself. Beyond hand-washing and wearing masks, it is important that you take care of your health by maintaining a balanced, nutrition-packed diet, staying hydrated, exercising, and getting an adequate amount of sleep to keep your body in coronavirus-fighting shape.
Besides physical health, it’s very important that you keep your mind in check as well. Poor mental health – a byproduct of prolonged quarantine, isolation, and pandemic-related stress and worries – can also cause your body to weaken. Daily meditation, talking to friends and family, and partaking in other stress-relieving activities you enjoy are some effective ways to keep your mental health in check.
Featured image by Nick Bolton