COVID-19: How apartment-dwellers can keep themselves safe during self-isolation

COVID-19: How apartment-dwellers can keep themselves safe during self-isolation
Urban EditorialMarch 19, 2020

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread around the globe with no signs of slowing down, several countries have won praise from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for effectively containing the spread of the virus. Singapore and Hong Kong have some of the highest apartment-dwelling populations in the world: over 80% of Singaporeans live in flats and nearly 50% of Hong Kong citizens live in apartments. Yet, they serve as shining examples of what apartment-dwelling residents can do to slow down the pandemic. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports that one in ten Australians live in apartments, and the number is likely to increase in the near future as more young people opt to rent apartments in major cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. This indicates that the density of urban areas will increase over the next few years. Under circumstances like this, a high-density space means a greater risk of being exposed to the Coronavirus, as people are in close contact with one another. Therefore, for residents living in apartments, it is more crucial than ever to protect yourself and to be considerate of others.

Social distancing and self-isolation are the key buzzwords under this social climate. For apartment-dwellers, keeping yourself safe during the COVID-19 outbreak is certainly doable:

APARTMENT LIVING

If you live alone in an apartment, stay at home. The state of emergency declared by the Victorian government means that it is time to be socially responsible and do your part to flatten the curve and not overburden hospitals and healthcare professionals. Only go outdoors when necessary, for example, grocery shopping. Maintaining good personal hygiene is essential — wash your hands regularly for at least twenty seconds and clean your home as often as you can.

Take note of the safety measures that have been put in place within your apartment building. In the unlikely event of an apartment evacuation for the disinfecting of shared living spaces, ensure that you comply with the authorities’ protocol. During this time, it is best to avoid using public facilities in the apartment, such as the gymnasium or swimming pool.

SHAREHOUSES + FAMILY HOMES

If you live in a shared apartment, or if you are living with someone under quarantine, minimise personal contact during the quarantine period. It is encouraged for everyone to stay in their respective rooms. Avoid sharing bathrooms. If there is only one bathroom in the apartment, clean and/or disinfect the bathroom thoroughly after using. The same goes for the kitchen — make sure to clean kitchen utensils and appliances after cooking. Woolworths and Coles offer doorstep delivery service to those under quarantine, so it is advised to make use of those services. Food delivery companies including UberEats and Menulog are implementing ‘contactless delivery’ to comply with current public health guidelines, hence ordering delivered meals is also another alternative to consider.

WORKING OR STUDYING FROM HOME

For those working or studying from home, creating a healthy and conducive environment is important for productivity. As tasks are being shifted online, staring at computer screens for hours strains your eyesight. Make sure that the work or study room has good natural lighting, and make sure to rest your eyes every twenty minutes or so. Get up from your work or study table and do some light exercises around the house.

Mental health is just as important during times like this — an overflow of information in the digital age and having to live in an isolated space for an extended period of time certainly takes a toll on one’s mental health. It is anxiety-inducing. The WHO has published an article on managing your mental wellbeing during the outbreak. Those staying at home should try to stick to their regular routine: eating healthy food, ensuring you get enough sleep and exercising regularly to ease feelings of anxiousness and agitation. Only obtain updates on COVID-19 from reputable sources, such as the WHO and the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), as seeking information from uncredited sources only stirs up unnecessary panic.

We are living in an unprecedented time of uncertainty, and the only way to combat it is that everyone works together and plays their part. As urban apartment-dwellers, living in a space more populated than suburban areas means more protective measures to take, especially when it comes to social distancing. However, as long as everybody cooperates and looks after one another, the situation can be overcome. Lastly, stay calm and wash your hands.

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