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Co-Living Advice Lifestyle & Culture

How To Prevent Coronavirus In NYC When Living With Roommates

2020 has already hit us with challenge after challenge, and now it’s throwing the viral outbreak, coronavirus at us. You’ve heard the scaremongering in the media and across the web. Stay indoors! Stock up on toilet paper! Don’t breathe near another human being!

The reality is a lot less terrifying. Coronavirus isn’t a “pandemic” (defined by the World Health Organization as “the worldwide spread of disease”. However, confirmed cases in New York continue to rise, so it makes sense to take some steps to reduce your chances of becoming infected. When you’re living with a roommate, there are certain things you can do to ensure your space is clean and you’re both staying healthy and hygienic. We don’t recommend quarantining yourself just yet! 

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Technically, coronaviruses (CoV) are a larger family of viruses that cause the common cold or more serious conditions like respiratory diseases. They’re transmitted between humans and animals, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Some common symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • Breathing troubles
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever 

In more severe cases, patients might experience kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome or pneumonia. 

Health experts don’t recommend visiting the doctor if you have a cough. However, if you’ve recently travelled to mainland China and are showing some symptoms, wear a mask and isolate yourself from other people. Call emergency services or your doctor to inform them of your travel and your symptoms. The same goes if you’ve been in contact with someone that recently visited mainland China and is unwell.  

What can I do to reduce my risk of coronavirus when living with a roommate?

When you’re living in such close proximity with another person, you and your roomi should take steps to reduce your risks of contracting coronavirus, because when your roommate is sick, it can be easy for the infection to pass over to you.

Here are some steps you should both be taking to avoid infection:

  • Wash your hands often. Surely it doesn’t take a health outbreak to force us to wash our hands?! Whatever – carry sanitizer with you or wash your hands with soap and running water regularly. After you use the bathroom, before you eat food, before and after contact with someone else, etc.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue and throw it into the trash after use. If your roomi’s tissues are strewn over their dressing table, have a quiet word.
  • Alert health professionals immediately if one of you has visited mainland China and feels ill. If this occurs, avoid contact with each other and start wearing masks to block liquid droplets. 
  • Keep your apartment clean. Use anti-bacterial cleaning products and ramp up your cleaning schedule to reduce the spread of germs. Disinfect objects you regularly touch, like door handles and tap fixtures.
  • Avoid close contact with someone showing flu-like symptoms. At the risk of offending them, if your roommate, friend or colleague is showing flu-like symptoms, avoid hugging them, shaking their hand or otherwise coming into close contact with them.

If someone in your building is infected, current advice from the city is to inform a doctor immediately. There’s no information as of yet around whether an infected person will stay quarantined in a building, but NYC has made 12,000 hospital beds available for patients that test positive for coronavirus.

Coronavirus myths – busted!

It’s easy to fall for the fables around protecting yourself from the virus. Ignore the following common myths and instead, be more diligent around hygiene for the best chances of protection:

  • Eating garlic and sesame oil will stop me from contracting coronavirus! 
  • I can go to the doctor and get vaccinated! 
  • I have to avoid eating at Chinese restaurants!
  • I can catch coronavirus from my pet!

With all this risk of infection, you might be thinking it’s going to be safer to make a dash to sign a lease on a solo apartment! Think twice – read our guide on why you should never live alone in the city and instead, enjoy a clean and healthy living environment with your roomi.