How can we protect ourselves from catching COVID-19?
Written by Galina Misheva, edited by Lindsay Martin, photo by Unsplash.
Stay informed – panic is counterproductive!
Maintain excellent hygiene
Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You should wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. The coronavirus molecule has a lipid outer membrane, which is pried open and broken by soap.
So, wash your hands thoroughly and meticulously scrub all visible parts – the more foam there is, the better.
Avoid contact with anyone who appears to be sick. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), up to 25 percent of people infected with COVID-19 may not have symptoms, yet still transmit the disease. Therefore, social distancing is always recommended when you are with others.
Avoid all non-essential travel and stay home. This will save lives!
Travel restrictions and new COVID-19 developments are updated continuously. Per the Ministry of Health all citizens are now prohibited from traveling between towns, cities, and villages unless absolutely necessary. Police are controlling the boundaries to enforce the new rule. In addition, Bulgaria has closed its border to a number of countries and are closely mirroring measures taken up by its European counterparts. Our team at Open Sofia is collecting information and reporting on current developments. Keep in mind that given the rapid development of the situation, instructions and advice may change by the hour.
Remember, if you have recently returned from a high-risk area, your GP or Regional Health Inspection Office is required to issue your sick leave.
What to do if you suspect you are sick?
Stay at home if you feel unwell. Avoid contact with others and call your GP. Do not go to a hospital and do not go to your GP’s office. Staying home is essential to prevent infecting others. Self-isolation is vital, even with mild symptoms. Do not go out until you have recovered. The quarantine advice in Bulgaria states that you should stay at home for 14 days.
In this article on Open Sofia, writers Minka Paraskevova and Toni P. Lyubenova summarise measures recommended by the Bulgarian government if you suspect you have COVID-19. Remember that you can call 112 for help or to receive the latest coronavirus information. There is also a 24/7 COVID-19 hotline to discuss your symptoms and get advice from an epidemiologist. That number is +359 28078757.
Keep in mind that testing in many countries around the world is limited.
In Bulgaria, COVID-19 RT-PCR testing is available at some private laboratories. In the coming days labs and pharmacies are expected to receive ‘fast tests.’ However, they have a reputation for being inaccurate. According to information by Bulgarian authorities, they may give a negative result, even if the patient is in fact positive.
The cost of a test is 120 leva, and this includes a flu test as well. Test results should be ready in two days and must be confirmed by the national laboratory. Those who test positive are then put under quarantine at home or hospitalized if their condition is more serious.
Even if you are unable to be tested, experts advise that if you have symptoms you should act as if you are contagious. If you live with other people, use a separate bathroom. If this is not possible, every surface you touch needs to be disinfected right away to avoid putting others at risk. Ask a friend to bring you supplies, and if this is not possible, wear a mask to avoid infecting others.
Finally, if you do experience symptoms, remain calm and do not panic. Consult a medical professional over the phone. And, be sure to inform those whom you have been in contact with over the last two weeks.