Top 10 tips to stay safe during an epidemic

Don’t panic. From flu to COVID-19, these key steps can limit your risk of most infections

Whether bird flu, the coronavirus COVID-19, MERS or Zika, the threat of a serious epidemic can strike fear in people across the globe. It’s wise to respect these infections. After all, each can seriously sicken people. Still, there’s no reason to panic. You can protect yourself by practicing good hygiene.

Here’s what infectious-disease experts and officials at the World Health Organization advise:

1. Wash your hands! 
Often. Assume that sneezes or germy hands have left infectious residues on every surface that you have not personally cleaned or seen cleaned (especially outside your home). Scrub away for 20 seconds. (Sing the Happy Birthday song twice — and not quickly — while you wash.) Don’t forget to wash between fingers and under nails. If soap and water is unavailable, you can disinfect hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Another option: If you have to turn a door knob, put a clean tissue or paper towel between the knob and your hand.