Coronavirus safety tips – recommended by Antara Health.

Fa calendar 16 grey March 28, 2020   
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Don’t panic, don’t discriminate, don’t accuse.

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Photo credit: Cottonbro


This article was originally published here by Dr. Kebba Jobarteh. CEO of Antara Health.

As Coronavirus cases spread throughout Kenya, here are some recommendations I hope will be helpful in this difficult time. I have tried to pay attention to the reality of life in Kenya and provide recommendations that are practical while at the same time in line with the CDC, WHO and GoK guidelines.


The most common symptoms of COVD19 are cough and fever although many people also have fatigue, sore throat and overall body aches and pains. It also appears that a large number of people infected with Coronavirus lose their sense of taste and smell (temporarily). The most concerning symptom is difficulty breathing, and anyone experiencing difficulty breathing in conjunction with a cough and fever MUST seek immediate care.

If you are an Antara member, call your Health Navigator immediately and s(he) will arrange your next steps. If you are NOT an Antara member, call the coronavirus hotline: 0729 471414, 0732353535 or toll free 0800 721 316.

Contact with Suspected/Confirmed Coronavirus case

If you have been in contact with a suspected or confirmed Coronavirus case, then the recommendation is 14 days of self-isolation. Click here for recommendations on self-isolation. So, if you have no symptoms and no known contact with a suspected or confirmed Coronavirus case, what do you do? Read on!

In general:

1. Wash Your Hands with soap and water regularly. An ALCOHOL-based hand rub is also effective.

  • When washing your hands, be thorough! Make sure you have a proper lather. Take at least 20 seconds. Pay extra attention to under your fingernails.

  • Make regular hand-washing a part of your routine. For example, do so: Every time you enter a building, before you eat, as the first thing you do when you enter your home.

2. Practice social distancing.

  • Social distancing refers to measures that are taken to increase the physical space between people to slow the spread of the virus.

  • Please stop shaking hands, greeting with kisses or hugging. Instead, try to wave, bow, put your hand over your heart, touch elbows, or other safer forms of saying hello.

  • Avoid large gatherings of people: sporting events, churches, parties, weddings etc.

3. Avoid Touching Your Face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. This behaviour is reflexive, meaning we often do it without even noticing. Try your best to be more aware.

4. Keep at least 2-meters between you and anyone coughing, sneezing or who appears unwell.

5. Cough or sneeze into your bent elbow or a tissue. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow when sneezing. Avoid coughing into your hands.

6. At home keep the windows open, where possible and clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.

  • These can include countertops, doorknobs, railings, kitchen counters, and phones.

  • Prop open doors to minimize unnecessary contact.

  • Each surface or object should be cleaned at least once per day.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.

  • If you don’t have access to running water, here’s an easy way to make your own hand sanitizer at home.

  • Here is an easy way to make your own disinfectant at home: 9 parts water, 1-part bleach. That’s it. So easy it didn’t even need a link.

7. For elderly loved ones:

  • If possible, minimize your elderly loved ones’ exposure to people in the community. Please remember that for the elderly, social interactions are a very important component of mental health, so don’t shut them away, but protect them.

  • Keep people with symptoms, even mild ones, away from the elderly. That frequently means grandchildren and loved ones, but please remember that elderly patients are at significantly higher risk of severe illness from COVID19, so please prioritize their health above all else.

  • If you can do something for them that limits exposure then do it (ie: shopping, getting water, going to the pharmacy etc.).

  • Avoid potentially infectious situations.

  • Have a low index of suspicion for seeking medical care.

8. If you live in flats or apartments:

  • Use the stairs instead of the lift when possible.

  • If you press buttons, use your knuckles or something other than your fingers.

  • Keep the windows open in your home, if possible (though be mindful to the risk to small children).

  • WIll your fellow residents, establish a protocol of regular disinfection of surfaces in public spaces such as doors, countertops, mailboxes etc.

  • Keep doors open where possible to avoid the need to touch doorknobs

9. Getting to work:

If you can walk, do so if you take a Matatu:

  • Minimize touching surfaces with your hands. Don’t touch or grab things you don’t have to

  • Don’t touch your face

  • Make sure the windows are open

  • Try to pay with M-Pesa and avoid handling cash. Safaricom has waived all MPesa fees for transaction less than KES 1000, so don’t worry about the fees

  • If there is someone coughing or sneezing, distance yourself from that person or take the next Matatu

  • Wash your hands or sanitize as quickly as possible after disembarking from the Matatu

  • When possible, walk, as it minimizes exposure risk and is great exercise

10. At work:

  • Work Remotely, if possible.

  • Make Sure Hand Sanitizer or Handwashing is Widely Available. At least 60% alcohol strength sanitizer should be easily accessible throughout the office/workplace.

  • Keep the Windows Open, where possible.

  • Clean Frequently Touched Surfaces and Objects. These can include desks, doorknobs, railings, countertops, computer keyboards, and phones. Each surface or object should be cleaned at least 3 times per day.

  • Ask Your Employer what to do if there is a suspected case in the office/workplace.

  • Ask Your Employer what to do if a confirmed COVD19 infection happens in the workplace.

11. In your community:

  • Don’t panic, don’t discriminate, don’t accuse.

  • Your Community Is Your Strongest Support Network and this is a moment in which we must come together to support one another. Be the voice of reason.

  • Make A Plan for how to minimize exposure to people who are ill and avoid situations in which you are exposed to large numbers of people.

  • Confer with Community Leaders around strategies to implement temporary social distancing measures.

  • Support community members at risk for severe illness and help them minimize infectious risk.

This article was originally published here by Dr. Kebba Jobarteh. CEO of Antara Health.


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