A friend sneezed suddenly, because of allergies, and a couple of heads turned his way.

He shrank under the stares.

With news of a confirmed novel coronavirus case (as of writing) in the country, people are taking extra precautions in taking care of their health and curbing spread of any viruses. Excellent practice.

The national and international health organizations remind us to maintain healthy hygiene practices and boost our immune systems. Practicing appropriate social distance and cough etiquette, proper handwashing, eating nutritious, thoroughly cooked food, avoiding contact with wild and farm animals and eating healthy are some precautionary measures people are reminded to take to avoid the spread of the virus.

Some of these reminders may be well and good for a good chunk of the population. But for a larger vulnerable sector in our population, running water and soap may not be as accessible than to most of us. I am reminded that even in some schools and offices, running water comes as a challenge at times.

I wonder if handwashing stations could be set up in key locations to provide access to water and soap to communities who need it?

Buying healthier food options and sanitizers may not also always be easier for communities who are strapped for cash.

I wonder what can be best done to support the vulnerable sector and help avoid spread of any viruses? Handwashing stations seem like one way. Intensifying local education campaigns in communities could be another. It’d be a good discussion to have in terms of intensifying health security efforts in communities that face other challenges.

Years ago, as a reporter, I covered the aH1N1 pandemic. I’d find myself at regular press briefings, reporting on updates, measures taken by the Department of Health and precautionary measures everyone had to take to avoid possible further spread of the virus. Now on the other side of the fence, I come to realize how viruses affect those more vulnerable.

Taking all necessary precautions are vital. With precautionary measures comes the shared responsibility of keeping ourselves and others informed with accurate and updated news. I’ve made it a habit to regularly check news sites for updates and latest directives. Make it a habit to do the same and share and remind those of the right precautionary measures and correct cough etiquettes.

Let’s keep each other healthy and protected. And let’s also think of ways how to best support those who need support in times like these.