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Updated on 16th April 2020

While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world is over two million (as of 16 April 2020), the pandemic is affecting billions of lives globally. The patients - confirmed as well as presumptive ones - are definitely the worst hit, with the global healthcare systems overtaxed due to the huge numbers affected. And yet, the entire global population must take all the necessary precautions to avoid contracting this new coronavirus infection, and work towards stopping its spread.

With 185 countries and regions of the world affected, most governments and health departments are choosing to impose partial or complete lockdowns. These lockdowns are supposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and give healthcare professionals the chance to contain as well as manage the disease. India has been put under a complete lockdown as of 25 March 2020 for a period of 21 days, which has since been extended upto 3 May 2020.

Your primary duty at this time is to practice all the preventive measures to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19. Staying at home is the most essential part of these measures. However, it’s practically not possible to completely avoid stepping out, especially when your home is falling short of essential supplies like food, medicines, hygiene products, etc. 

This is precisely the reason why one person from every family might need to step out once in a while during a lockdown. This designated person has the social and familial responsibility to practice every precaution to avoid the spread of COVID-19 - whether it’s from their home to everyone else or from surfaces outdoors back to his or her own family. Here is everything you need to do to make sure you don’t accidentally aid the spread of COVID-19 when you step out to get essentials during a lockdown.

  1. Precautions for stepping out during a lockdown
  2. Precautions for buying essentials during a lockdown
  3. Precautions you must take after getting essentials during a lockdown
  4. Should you take a shower after returning home?
  5. Doctors for COVID-19: tips on maintaining hygiene and social distancing while shopping for essentials

Stepping out once in a while to get essentials might be a necessity, but you have to keep in mind that until the current public health emergency subsides completely you cannot and should not step out every day. Going for a quick jog or a leisurely walk is not an option during a lockdown. And when you do need to step out, taking the following precautions will help you avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 - or any other infection for that matter.

  • Choose the healthiest person at home to step out to get essentials. This person’s immune system should be strong, and they should not be suffering from any other diseases.
  • Make a comprehensive list of everything you need. Put some thought into it, because you cannot step out every day. (Read more: How to eat healthy during a lockdown)
  • Find out which shops closest to you are open currently and visit only them. Travelling distances to get essentials might not be a viable option during a lockdown.
  • Carry a sanitizer or gloves if you feel the shop surfaces are high-risk. Wear a mask, even if it's a homemade face cover. If you’re using gloves during summer, you might want to put them on right before you enter a shop or approach a vendor. (Read more: How to make hand sanitizer at home)
  • Carry a large, reusable cloth bag to get the essentials in. You can easily disinfect the bag once you come back.

Read more: How useful are masks against COVID-19 and how to use them

Once you step out to get essentials, you must remember all the necessary precautions and preventive measures you need to take. This is not an ordinary, everyday shopping spree, so stay focused on the task and get back home as soon as you’re done with buying the essentials. Take the following precautions while you’re out to get essentials.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before leaving home.
  • Maintain a one-metre to four-metre distance from everyone else.
  • Avoid touching as many surfaces as you can.
  • Do not touch any part of your face, especially the eyes, nose and mouth. If you’re wearing a mask, do not touch its surface. (Read more: How to stop touching your face to avoid infection)
  • Make sure the products you’re buying are fresh and properly packed.
  • Don’t travel far from home to buy essentials.
  • Use a private vehicle or walk to the nearby stores instead of using public transportation.

Coming back home after getting essentials during a lockdown due to COVID-19 can be a bit stressful, especially if you’re worried about carrying the infection back to your family. This is the reason why taking ample precautions is important. Take the following steps the moment you come back home.

  • Avoid touching any surfaces at home until you've washed your hands with soap and water.
  • If you wore gloves or mask to do your shopping, remember to take them off without touching their outer surfaces. Discard these in a closed-lid bin after single use.
  • Carefully unpack all the groceries and essentials. Clean the packets of packaged products and wash fresh ingredients thoroughly before putting them away. (Read more: How to wash fruits and vegetables during the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Disinfect the bag properly.
  • Wash your hands again after handling the essentials and storing them away.
  • Disinfect any surfaces or objects you may have touched.
  • Clean and disinfect your refrigerator and storage areas regularly.

Doctors say the main area of concern is your hands. As long as you wash them - and things that came from outside - properly you should be okay.

That said, a shower never hurt anyone, especially during summer.

Shower with warm water and soak your clothes in a bucket of warm water and disinfectant for extra caution, but remember, there's no need to panic.

Dr. Neha Gupta

Dr. Neha Gupta

Infectious Disease
16 Years of Experience

Dr. Lalit Shishara

Dr. Lalit Shishara

Infectious Disease
8 Years of Experience

Dr. Alok Mishra

Dr. Alok Mishra

Infectious Disease
5 Years of Experience

Dr. Amisha Mirchandani

Dr. Amisha Mirchandani

Infectious Disease
8 Years of Experience

Medicine NamePack SizePrice (Rs.)
AlzumabAlzumab Injection6995.16
AnovateANOVATE OINTMENT 20GM90.0
Pilo GoPilo GO Cream67.5
Proctosedyl BdPROCTOSEDYL BD CREAM 15GM66.3
ProctosedylPROCTOSEDYL 10GM OINTMENT 10GM63.9
RemdesivirRemdesivir Injection15000.0
Fabi FluFabi Flu Tablet3500.0
CoviforCovifor Injection5400.0
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References

  1. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public
  2. Indian Council of Medical Research [Internet]. Department of Health Research. New Delhi. India.
  3. Nemours Children’s Health System [Internet]. Jacksonville (FL): The Nemours Foundation; c2017. Coronavirus (COVID-19): Home Care & Precautions
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): How to Protect Yourself
  5. United Nations Children Fund [Internet] United Nations Organization. New York. United States; Key Messages and Actions for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools
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