Transitioning to the New Normal: Understanding COVID-19 Transmission Patterns

As a highly-communicable disease, COVID-19 has affected various aspects of people's lives globally and has significantly changed the way our systems currently work. With countries imposing nationwide lockdowns as a precaution against the pandemic, travel is highly restricted, office employees work from home, and access to commercial establishments becomes limited, among others. As the country prepares to transition to the ‘new normal,’ it is vital to understand how the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is transmitted from one person to another to avoid the further spread of the infection.

How does COVID-19 spread?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is primarily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets.

1. Respiratory Droplets - COVID-19 can be transmitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Anyone within 3 feet of the infected person may inhale these droplets into their lungs. The virus can also be transmitted through close contact such as when shaking hands or caring for the sick.
2. Surface Transmission - Surface transmission happens when a person touches contaminated surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on. Research shows that the virus can live on surfaces like plastic and stainless steel for several days.

What can I do to protect myself from COVID-19?

1. Continue practicing physical distancing- Maintain a distance of at least three feet from other people. Accordingly, avoid going to social gatherings or in crowded places.
2. Maintain good personal hygiene. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and constantly wash your hands with soap and water. In case these are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol.
3. Wear Personal Protective Equipment. Wear face masks that cover your mouth and nose when going out, or when with other people. Non-medical fabric masks may also help, as long as they are not damaged, clean and are worn properly. Never share your face mask with other people.
4. Clean and Disinfect. Using a household disinfectant, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19.
5. Observe stricter precautions for individuals at higher risk. Older people, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, tend to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms. It is highly relevant for the immuno-compromised or those who belong to high-risk groups to stay at home as much as possible, and practice stricter precautions as iterated above.

Understanding the transmission patterns and practicing these specified precautionary measures could mean saving our lives and the people we love. Equipped with the right information and proper health practices, together, we can help fight to end this pandemic.

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 Written by:

Catherrine Joy Dimailig
Jwynne Gwyneth Macan