COVID-19 has now spread to most parts of the world, infected over 20 lakh people and claimed the lives of nearly 1.5 lakh people globally. This highly contagious viral infection is testing the capacity of most governments, healthcare systems and other public infrastructures.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, was initially revealed to have the severest effects on people who are already immunocompromised. This group included the elderly and people with comorbidities like heart disease, lung disease, hypertension, kidney disease, etc. As the disease spread and more research about it came out, it was revealed that pregnant women, children and younger people were also at risk of contracting COVID-19. (Read more: COVID-19 prevention tips for older people and those living with chronic diseases)

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on 16 March 2020 that of the 508 people hospitalised due to COVID-19 in America till then, 38% were between the ages of 20 and 54 years. These patients not only contracted the infection but also had to be hospitalised and cared for in intensive care units for COVID-19. Recent news reports in India also indicate that younger adults (aged 21-40) are contracting the disease more than any other age group in the country. (Read more: Mild vs severe symptoms of COVID-19)

The lockdown in India, from 25 March - 3 May 2020, may help to arrest the spread of COVID-19. But even after the lockdown is lifted, people everywhere - including young people who are healthy and do not have any comorbidities - must take all the precautions they can to avoid getting the infection from any possible source.

  1. Health tips every young person can use during COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Hand washing
  3. Respiratory hygiene
  4. Social or physical distancing
  5. Stop touching your face
  6. Stay at home (as much as possible)
  7. Precautions while stepping out
  8. Safe storage of food
  9. Healthy diet
  10. Exercise routine
  11. Mental health check
  12. Maintain a health diary
  13. Call the doctor
  14. Care for others

The precautions which healthy young people must take are quite similar to the ones recommended to the entire global public by the World Health Organization (WHO), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). (Read more: WHO: Five steps to fight COVID-19)

What young people need to particularly remember is not to take their current healthy status for granted, and keep working at it to ensure the infection isn’t able to make its way in. This goes for the period of lockdown as well as afterwards. It’s also important to remember that although it might seem like there is no end to this pandemic, every disease has a cycle and COVID-19 will be eliminated from the world one day (the sooner the better, of course). (Read more: 3 steps India should take now to be better prepared for future epidemics)

Preparing for a post-pandemic world where your lifestyle reflects the lessons learnt during this public health emergency is very important. Here are some health tips which every young and healthy person should adopt immediately, inculcate completely and never let go.

Read more: How to protect yourself against COVID-19 infection

Let’s start with the basics first. Handwashing was devised as the best way to disinfect your hands and arms way back in the 1840s, but it gained popularity only in the 1980s. The thing is, every child is taught how to properly wash their hands, but as you grow older, this basic hygiene practice is somehow forgotten.

The irony now is that washing your hands properly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds is being recommended as one of the best ways to keep all infections, but especially COVID-19 at bay. So, how to wash your hands properly with soap and water is being taught anew, and you should practice it regularly and especially after touching high-risk surfaces. If you don’t have soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.

Read more: How to make hand sanitizer at home

Covering your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing is not just a matter of simple etiquette. Droplet transmission is one of the most common ways through which respiratory diseases like COVID-19 spread. What this basically means is that if a person infected with COVID-19 (or even the common cold for that matter) sneezes or coughs without covering his or her face with either their elbow or a disposable tissue, the droplets from that sneeze or cough will then get transferred to surfaces around the sick person or even on another person standing close by directly.

A healthy person can then contract the infection (Read more: Can coronaviruses stick to clothes and shoes?). This is the reason why following proper respiratory hygiene is very important. The efficacy of masks for COVID-19 prevention might be questioned by some, but wearing one to keep yourself safe is much less of a hassle than contracting a disease that can be irksome at the very least and fatal at its worst. What’s more, wearing face covers (homemade reusable masks) is being made compulsory in a lot of Indian states currently.

Social distancing - which has recently been renamed as physical distancing by the WHO - is another effective way of keeping all infections, including COVID-19 at bay. This type of distancing refers to maintaining at least one metre’s distance from the people around you. This basic distance can keep droplet transmission under control and keep you healthy, especially if you also practice hand-washing and respiratory hygiene. 

In some parts of the world, however, this can be a bit difficult to maintain. This is especially the case with densely populated countries like India, where using any form of public transport or even stepping out to shop for essentials involves coming in contact with dozens of people every day.

This is the reason why social or physical distancing is being promoted by most governments, healthcare institutions and the WHO as something which has to be self-regulated by all. Airlines, shopping malls, movie theatres, vendors, etc., can try to impose physical distancing by monitoring queues and seat placements, but managing a population as huge as India’s can be a challenge. So, it’s the responsibility of every individual, family and community to maintain physical distancing even after the lockdown is lifted.

Read more: 10 ways to engage socially while maintaining healthy distance

There’s absolutely no point in following all the other precautions against COVID-19 if you don’t learn how to stop touching your face. There might be debates in the scientific community about exactly how many times per day an individual touches their face, but there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that face-touching is one of the ways in which you can contract an infection.

Basically, if you touch a contaminated surface or infected person and then touch your face - especially your eyes, nose or mouth - without washing your hands first, the virus is likely to enter your body via the mucous membranes on your face. It’s a short step from the virus entering your body to its wrecking absolute havoc on your health. There’s no going back from it.

So, the best thing to do is avoid touching your face as much as possible.

Whether it’s because there’s a lockdown in place or because you’re feeling a little sick, staying at home as much as possible is the best way to go during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you regularly clean and disinfect all the surfaces of your home, then those four walls - no matter how confining they might seem - are your best protection against the pandemic. This is a safe zone under your control, unlike every single place outdoors.

So staying at home as much as possible, even after the lockdown is lifted, might be your best bet for keeping yourself and your family safe from the infection. This, however, does not mean that you cling to your home even when it’s necessary to step out, for work, essentials or to go to the hospital or the doctor. You should go out but take all the necessary precautions, as explained in the next tip.

Read more: Work from home during COVID-19 lockdown

One of the main reasons for stepping out during the COVID-19 lockdown is to get essentials like food products, medications, hygiene products, etc. While you might have to do this, it’s best to keep your trips to the market to a minimum during the lockdown and for some time after the lockdown is lifted. It’s also recommended that the healthiest member of the family step out to get said essentials. If that means you, do step out but make sure you follow all the hygiene and distancing precautions while buying essentials during the pandemic.

Sooner or later, this lockdown will be lifted and you will get back to work. It’s best to make sure that your office takes all the COVID-19 prevention steps needed after the lockdown. (Read more: COVID-19 prevention steps every office must take after the lockdown

You will also have to take every precaution you can while travelling via any form of public transport, whether it’s a flight, a bus or a train.

It’s not just important to take every precaution while going out to get essentials but also after you the essentials home. Disinfecting all the essentials is very important, but when it comes to fresh produce, washing fruits and vegetables in warm water properly should suffice. Wiping them down with a paper towel or reusable cloth is also recommended.  

While it’s not safe to use chemical disinfectants to clean vegetables and fruits, you should use them to disinfect all storage areas. Keeping your refrigerator clean and disinfected is also important. Make sure cooked food, raw vegetables and raw meat products are not stored together, as these can cause cross-contamination.

Read more: 10 lifelong habits to adopt during the COVID-19 pandemic

Keeping your immune system working at its best is just what you need to avoid infections and any type of ailment. And one of the best ways to have your immunity functioning properly is through a nutrient-dense balanced diet. It’s important to remember that COVID-19 is not transmitted through properly cooked food, although the risk of infection exists if you don’t follow the food safety precautions mentioned above. (Read more: Is it safe to order food online during COVID-19?)

Sticking to a healthy diet during lockdown might seem difficult, but it’s really not if you pick nutrient-dense ingredients, stick to simple-yet-nutritious recipes, plan ahead, mix and match your menu, use portion control, and involve your loved ones (through video calls if they stay away from you). Apart from this, you can also use the AYUSH ministry guidelines to boost immunity.

Exercise is an important part of life, and simply because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean you can’t get some workout done. There are a number of exercises to do at home during the lockdown, none of which require equipment or a gym. You could also do some yoga and meditate.

Read more: Yoga for stress management during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sticking to a good exercise routine might just be the best thing to do right now, because it can help manage stress and anxiety as well. What’s more, you need not worry about gaining too much weight during the lockdown period if you have a good exercise regimen. 

Read more: How to manage your weight during the COVID-19 lockdown

Believe it or not, the anxiety of living through a pandemic can affect everybody. It’s natural to feel worried about or fear for the safety and wellbeing of your family and loved ones, and it’s actually okay to worry about yourself too. Accepting your anxiety and turning it into something positive that guides you to take all necessary COVID-19 precautions is important.

Read more: Mental health tips for people living away from family during the lockdown

Being stuck indoors during a lockdown can also lead to cabin fever. And if you’ve had to self-quarantine due to presumptive COVID-19, using proper mental health tips to stay healthy is also important. Do not ignore your mental health during the lockdown or after it, because this pandemic has changed the way humans see the world around them and is likely to have long-term effects on your mental health.

Read more: How to protect your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

If there’s anything this COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s to take our health and public health very seriously indeed. One of the main reasons why COVID-19 managed to spread all over the world is that people who were infected and showing mild symptoms believed they were probably suffering from nothing more than a common cold or flu, and continued to travel all over the world. 

Not prioritising your health over everything else, even travel for work or leisure, therefore has its repercussions. So, even after the lockdown is lifted and this pandemic is over, take your health very seriously and maintain a health diary if you fall sick. The diary can help you keep a track of your symptoms, keep a record of your body temperature (especially any fever), weight, discomfort levels, etc., and even help healthcare professionals arrive at a diagnosis faster if you fall sick.

Keeping a track of your symptoms and monitoring your health status is important, but nothing beats getting in touch with your doctor as soon as an ailment presents itself. Delay in getting the attention of healthcare professionals can have consequences, because it can make your symptoms worse - symptoms of COVID-19 like pneumonia can worsen suddenly. (Read more: Pneumonia and COVID-19)

It’s also important to remember that there are a number of other diseases that should not be forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes malaria, dengue, typhoid, chikungunya, etc. - all diseases that can have a huge impact if there’s an outbreak in India. It’s therefore important to call a doctor or emergency health service if you feel sick and observe symptoms getting worse. 

Read more: Malaria and COVID-19

Young and healthy people need to remember that while their chances of getting severe illness due to COVID-19 is comparatively low, they’re the active generation which can provide support to those in need of healthcare - like the elderly and the sick - especially during a pandemic. If there’s a COVID-19 patient at home (with mild symptoms or post-recovery), taking good care of these people is something they should contribute towards.

Since young people also have better access to social media and other platforms which can be used for public good, they can also try to minimise the stigma attached to COVID-19 and raise awareness about domestic abuse and violence during the lockdown.


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References

  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System; Coronavirus and COVID-19: Younger Adults Are at Risk, Too
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System; Coronavirus and COVID-19: Who is at higher risk?
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; People Who Are at Higher Risk for Severe Illness
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) — United States, February 12–March 16, 2020
  5. Zhou, Fei. et al. Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. VOLUME 395, ISSUE 10229, P1054-1062, MARCH 28, 2020.
  6. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; Protocol for assessment of potential risk factors for 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection among health care workers in a health care setting
  7. Guan, Wei-Jie. et al. Comorbidity and its impact on 1590 patients with Covid-19 in China: A Nationwide Analysis. Eur Respir J. 2020 Mar 26 : 2000547. PMID: 32217650
  8. Yi Ye. et al. COVID-19: what has been learned and to be learned about the novel coronavirus disease. Int J Biol Sci. 2020; 16(10): 1753–1766. PMID: 32226295

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