The novel coronavirus is continuing its spread in Pakistan. Pakistan has reported a total of 21 cases. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has declared the virus a global pandemic. The most important recommendation during this difficult time is not to panic, but to prepare.

So, you should be taking some steps to get ready. Here’s the reasonable person’s guide to coronavirus preparation, where we (with help from several sources) try to help you not panic, but prepare.

Wash your hands

Some of the most impactful steps to stop a coronavirus outbreak are ones we are all aware of but often find it hard to put into practice. According to the CDC, you should “wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.” If soap and water aren’t readily available and your hands are not visibly dirty, you can also use hand sanitizer.

There’s no need to wear a face mask if you’re well, but you should if you are sick

In pictures from cities in China, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan, all of which have experienced significant coronavirus outbreaks, almost everyone is wearing face masks. That prompted many Pakistani’s to wonder — should we be doing that too? The answer is that unless you are sick, it’s not a particularly good idea. The CDC “does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 [the disease caused by the novel coronavirus]. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it.”

If you get sick, you might have to self quarantine for a few days or weeks. Get the things you’d need to manage that.

The majority of cases of Covid-19 don’t require hospitalization. You might have a fever, feel very sick, and recover slowly over the course of a few weeks. You can take steps in advance to make sure this isn’t too disruptive, and taking those steps now is a good idea. If you get sick, the last thing you want to do is have to go to the store. What do you want to have on hand? Purchasing a couple of weeks’ supply of foods you’d want while home sick with the flu is a good idea, as well as other essentials: toilet paper, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent.

Consider what you’d do if schools and day cares are closed

In Japan, schools are closed through late March while Harvard University has sent all the students home. As coronavirus spreads in Pakistan, there’s a possibility that we will see school closures, too. The closure of schools would be enormously disruptive to the lives of many families, and planning for that possibility might be one of the most important forms of coronavirus preparation you can do now.

Psychological preparation is important too

Pandemics are scary. The spread of the coronavirus within the US could be a significant disruption to many people’s lives, a health crisis for some smaller number of people, and a deadly tragedy for a still-smaller number.

It helps to be a little psychologically prepared for the possibility that life will be very different for a period of time. Processing that possibility now can help us get over the surprise of that, to some extent, before it happens.

So coronavirus paranoia, if you’re experiencing some, isn’t silly or unreasonable — it’s part of the totally normal process of coming to grips with a significant problem.


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