With the emergence of COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, it is crucial that citizens take extreme care in personal hygiene to protect themselves and their families from this outbreak.

The virus is spread from person to person via respiratory droplets, which are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Common signs of COVID-19 infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties (WHO).

At the time of this blog being published, there exists no vaccine available to prevent COVID-19. The only way to prevent infection is by practising basic protective measures. We have outlined these measures as follows:

1. Practise washing your hands as often as possible for at least 20 seconds each time. Focus on doing this especially after being in public places, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

2. In the absence of water and soap, utilise a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. The most effective method of use is to cover both your hands completely with the sanitizer until they feel dry.

3. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Your hands come into contact with various surfaces daily, including those that are breeding grounds for germs and viruses.

4. Use social distancing of about 3 feet when in public places, avoid physical contact (shaking hands, hugging, kissing), and stay away from large social gatherings. This is especially for persons who are high risk, for example, those over 60 and those with compromised immune systems. Stay at home if you feel ill or show any flu like symptoms.

5. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Dispose of any used tissue immediately.

6. Clean and disinfect all hard surfaces that you touch daily. This includes phones, keyboards, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, faucets and sinks. Be careful when handling chemicals and ensure that your cleaning solution contains at least 70% alcohol.

Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. In this time of panic, only trust information provided by official bodies, such as the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and your local media houses.