It has become quite clear that just about anybody can come down with COVID-19, the life-threatening disease caused by the novel Coronavirus that has ravaged the whole world, and as at 11:21 GMT, March 27, 2020, the global number confirmed cases had reached 549,147 with 24,863 deaths while 128,623 patients had recovered.
In Nigeria, as at the time of filing this copy on Friday morning, the number of confirmed cases had risen to 65 while six persons had recovered from the infection while one person died, who it was understood had underlying conditions that probably compromised his immune system.
In Lagos, Nigeria’s major metropolitan city, the state government, in collaboration with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, a leading bank, is converting the main pitch of the popular Onikan Stadium, which was completely refurbished last year, into a temporary 100-bed isolation centre for the treatment of people confirmed to have COVID-19, as the numbers are projected to rapidly rise beyond higher given that the emerging mega city is currently the epicenter of Coronavirus infection. As at the time of filing this copy, operatives of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have traced and placed under close medical observation more than 1000 contacts of the confirmed cases isolation.
As the pandemic continues its march across nations, affecting families in every economic class, doctors whose patients, prior to the pandemic had underlying conditions have become deeply worried and bombarding their doctors with questions on how to they can stay healthy in the setting of COVID-19. They are concerned because they have read that those with heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes may be at an even higher risk for serious illness from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19, which is also called SARS-CoV-2).
And they are right to be concerned. The very early (meaning, it can change) information suggests that being older, having heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, as well as lung disease, HIV, being immune-compromised, and being pregnant may all predict a more severe COVID-19 illness.
But that does not mean that you are helpless when it comes to minimizing your risk of COVID-19.
The prevention strategies that have been discussed over and over are critically important.
Frequent and proper hand-washing technique
Avoiding crowds. And others, particularly if they are sick
Not shaking hands
Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose
These are all incredibly important, but they are not all that you can do. Good health habits are always important, but take on additional urgency considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
We want our bodies and immune system to be at their strongest, yet the barriers to healthy behaviors are even higher right now. Gyms are closed, our patterns are disrupted, and the anxiety and stress may be affecting our sleep. Combine this with losing some of our stress-relieving outlets like church, social gatherings, sports, or even going out for dinner, and it’s easy to see how our health habits can slip, even at a time when they should be a high priority.
Here are the five most important tips shared by an American doctor with his patients to help them stay strong and healthy through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Get your sleep
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your health will suffer. Most people need 7-9 hours a night. The important thing to avoid is the “I will sleep when I’m dead” approach. I’m not joking when I say that this approach may get you there, sooner than you’d like.
Gyms are closed (as they should be right now), but that doesn’t mean you can’t be active. Go for a walk, do some bodyweight exercises (like push-ups, squats, lunges, burpees) or follow an exercise or yoga class online. It’s important to do something active every day, even if it’s for 5-10 minutes.
Eat nutritious food
Packaged foods are convenient, easy to store, and last forever. They are also likely to be ultra-processed and lead to weight gain and poor health. Instead, look for natural foods that you can store for a while. Good choices are canned fish or chicken, canned beans, canned or frozen vegetables, hard cheeses, eggs, nuts and seeds, fruits, avocados, berries, and whole grains like oatmeal.
Avoid stress eating and drinking
About 40 per cent of us are self-described as emotional eaters. Be aware if you are prone to this and be thoughtful when you reach for something to eat. Am I really hungry? Or just bored, anxious, or otherwise stressed? If the answer is that you are not hungry, see if drinking a glass of water or going for a walk will help with your cravings. Also, it’s common to turn to alcohol during times of stress. Notice if your alcohol intake is more than usual, and be aware of ways that your drinking may be affecting your health – like poor sleep, poor food choices when drinking, or not being active the next day because you don’t feel your best.
Practice stress management
Effective stress management techniques include controlled breathing, meditation, gratitude practice, among many others. Some find physical activity and getting enough sleep to be the most effective stress management technique. Whatever works for you, focus on making it a priority right now. And if you don’t have an established stress management technique, this may be an ideal time to find one!
Better health is often a lower priority in times of stress and turmoil. However, particularly in these days of COVID-19, taking care of your health is not selfish. It’s selfless. Your family and friends need you to stay healthy. We need you to stay healthy.
• Adapted with material from WebMD