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How to stay safe from coronavirus and effectively curb its spread

Saturday March 14 2020

Nurses wear protective gear at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi

Nurses wear protective gear at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi where an isolation and treatment centre for the new coronavirus was set up on March 6, 2020. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NASIBO KABALE
By NASIBO KABALE
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As the country comes to terms with the reality that Covid-19 has been recorded in the country, the Ministry of Health announced that people should be ready to self-quarantine.

Kenya, as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, must be ready to institute the measure.

Many Kenyans and foreign nationals have, for the past two months, self-quarantined for 14 days after travelling to countries that are considered high-risk and they have reintegrated with their families thereafter.

Self-quarantine and self-isolation are different. The first measure is for a large number of healthy people who may fall sick following possible exposure. The second is for people who are ill with the coronavirus and thus pose a danger to their family and visitors, and must be watched closely.

Self-quarantine lasts for two weeks, which is the presumed incubation period of the virus.

It is especially challenging dealing with cases where young children, elderly relatives or those who live in cramped quarters with a lot of roommates are involved.

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This is something that Vincent Li, his wife Luo Wang and their child Joy Li are all too familiar with.

The three travelled from China last month and were required to stay indoors for two weeks.

The WHO recommends increasing airflow and ventilation in the house, especially in rooms like the kitchen or living room where multiple family members come every day.

“When home-quarantine is chosen, one should occupy a well-ventilated single room, or if a single room is not available, maintain a distance of at least a metre from other household members, minimising the use of shared spaces and cutlery and ensuring that shared spaces (kitchen and bathroom) are well-ventilated,” the WHO guidelines indicate.

Dr Majid Twahir, the associate dean for clinical affairs and chief of staff at the Aga Khan University Hospital, said a room must be designated for exclusive use and a bathroom should be, too, if possible.

“Every surface you cough on or touch could become contaminated with the virus and so you can use a mixture of four parts water and one part bleach to clean. You should also wear a mask and not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with anyone,” he said.