Since coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first identified and named in January, there has been a flurry of news articles and social media posts about the respiratory illness, also known as COVID-19. The flood of information can make it difficult to separate fact from fiction, and in a rapidly evolving situation such as this, rumors and misinformation can be dangerous. This is particularly true for people living with cancer, who may already have weakened immune systems that place them at higher risk for developing serious complications from the disease.
It’s natural for people to search for answers and information in times of uncertainty. Just make sure that your information sources are credible ones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent site that is updated daily with the latest information on COVID-19.
Don’t fall for claims about remedies that will immunize or cure you of the disease. While there isn’t currently a vaccine or cure for coronavirus, there is a lot that you can still do to protect yourself and your health. Many of these are common practices that you already do every day.
Avoid close contact.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for cancer survivors and people with other serious chronic conditions, who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Avoid crowded locations like malls, theaters, and sports venues.
Keep your hands clean.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places—elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
Make sure your health care team is also taking steps to protect you from exposures.
- Your health care providers should also practice frequent hand washing and, in some cases, wear masks, gowns, and/or gloves to avoid exposing you to bacteria, viruses, and other infection-causing agents.
- There is a wealth of information for cancer patients currently receiving treatment, cancer survivors, caregivers, and health care providers on how to prevent infection and support wellness on CDC’s preventcancerinfections.org.
Clean and disinfect.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Avoid Nonessential travel.
- Visit CDC’s site for the latest information and travel risks and restrictions.
Taking just a few precautions now is your best defense in preventing and avoiding illness from this novel coronavirus.