With coronavirus diagnoses popping up all over the place, people are starting to become wary of overseas travel, large meetings and conferences and spending any time near someone with the tiniest sniffle. And while the panic seems a little over the top at the moment - panic buying toilet paper is a tad extreme and completely not necessary in Australia - there are some things you can do to sensibly prepare for a time when we may need to reduce our contact with other people.
Pick up your remote communications and collaboration game
There are lots of options for effectively working remotely and collaborating with colleagues and clients. Tools like Slack have a free option that makes it easy to work remotely. It integrates with lots of other cloud services like Zoom so you can easily toggle from IM to video.
Microsoft is offering Teams for free for the the next six months so that's another option.
LogMeIn is offering its services for free as well to governments/municipalities, educational institutions, healthcare organisations and non-profits.
And Google is doing something similar, offering G Suite and G Suite for Education customers Hangouts Meet's premium functionality for free until 1 July 2020.
Look at remote conference attendance options
MWC, Google's I/O and Facebook F8 are just the tip of the cancelled conference iceberg. The famous Geneva Motor Show has also been canned and we can expect many more events to be put to the sword over the coming weeks. Even the Tokyo Olympics are at risk although the IOC is keeping quiet and saying a cancellation or delay is not currently expected.
The good news is that many events are already equipped with streaming infrastructure for capturing and sharing event sessions. If you were planning to attend a conference but are worried about coronavirus, cancel your travel plans and look at the remote access options.
Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to prevent catching or spreading any infection. Use soap and water and wash for as long as it takes you to sing "Happy Birthday" twice through.
Hand sanitiser is good but hand washing is more effective.
While washing your hands is important it can be a pain to do after every sneeze or cough. Which is why hand sanitiser is so handy. A quick squirt and a rub and most of the risk of infection is gone. But hand sanitiser can be expensive and hard to come by. Here's how to make your own hand sanitiser.
When it comes to your home or office, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. Studies suggest that coronaviruses, including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus, may survive on surfaces for between a few hours up to several days depending on factors like the type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment.
It recommends cleaning surfaces with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.
And face-masks - unless you have cold and flu like symptoms, there's no need to wear a face mask according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Something reiterated by Australia's Chief Medical Officer.
Be sensible about what you 'panic' buy
The consensus is that coronavirus has an incubation period of between one and 14 days with 5 days the most common. While one Australian fatality has been confirmed, just 34 people have been infected here with 21 of those people now OK.
Local supplies of everyday items aren't in peril – especially toilet paper. In fact, we have ample supplies in Australia that will be restocked regularly, so there is absolutely no need to buy 300 rolls.
Given the incubation period, ensuring you have a couple of weeks worth of food isn't a bad plan. For example, tinned fruit and vegetables, frozen veggies and meat and other essentials are a good idea. For many of us, stretching what's in the pantry and fridge for a couple of weeks, assuming you need to be quarantined at home, shouldn't require emptying the supermarket shelves.
Know the facts
It's fair to say that there's been a lot of hysterical commentary and misinformation about COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. The WHO has produced a Q and A that covers most of the big questions people have about coronavirus. Rather than relying on information from the people up the road or a talking head conspiracy theorist, arm yourself with real information from a credible source.