How to Prepare for a Coronavirus Lockdown

With outbreaks worldwide, the prospect of quarantine looms.

With the continuing disregard for public health directives by the ministry of health (MOH), a lockdown is impending as it is the only logical thing to do.

The death toll in Italy has now overtaken that in China, while London is set to go into lockdown this weekend.

As coronavirus upends life for more and more people, you might be feeling uncertain or fearful about what’s to come. When that anxiety is coupled with a sudden drop in social contact — whether because you’re quarantined or just working from home for who knows how long — those feelings can feel even more heightened. Here are some tips for surviving it.

1.Prepare the essentials

Runs on masks have already occurred in many countries, but factories are revving up to meet demand. Buy masks, hand sanitizer, bleach, and gloves—as well as a month, minimum, of any vital household medications. (It’s not clear how much masks actually help outside, but appearing without one in a public space can draw the attention of authorities or public disapproval.) Stock up on painkillers and decongestants. Avoid medications that suppress the immune system, such as prednisone. Smoking and drinking worsen the chance of pneumonia developing; try to give them up as much as you can.

Food shortages have not been a key issue in China, but it can’t hurt to stock a month of nonperishable food. Soups are particularly recommended for variety and ease of preparation if sick, as well as the comfort value. Water is unlikely to be critical, but if you live somewhere without a drinkable tap supply, stock up on a month of bottled water, too. Fresh fruit and vegetables are often the hardest things to get, so buy vitamin tablets, especially a strong supply of vitamin C.

2.Don’t get caught out of place

The lockdown has been particularly devastating in China for the tens of millions of people who were visiting family during the Lunar New Year and have ended up stranded for weeks far from their own homes. Some migrant workers were left homeless, caught in the middle of travel when the quarantines came down and forced onto the streets. Other people have been forced to rely on the generosity of friends or strangers.

Foreigners have often had to apply for special permission to extend visas. Minimize nonessential travel, especially across borders, if the spread of the virus continues—and take extra luggage (and emergency cash) to prepare for the possibility of being stuck abroad for weeks longer than expected.

3.Prepare Financially

Small and medium-sized businesses in China are on the edge of collapse. And while firms have been paying out salaries—under pressure from the government—even to those who can’t work, many people in the gig economy have been out of luck. Start thinking now about what a month of no or reduced income would mean to you—and preparing to move as much of your work life online as possible. That goes double if your business depends on public spaces, especially restaurants.

4. Get a little fitness in

There are plenty of workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home, and doing so can seriously help your mental health. Here are a bunch of exercises you can do without any equipment, and YouTube has tons of channels that offer instruction in everything from yoga to Pilates to strength training.

And if you can still go outside, nothing beats a walk. Just avoid big groups of people.

5. Go online, but beware.

When the SARS epidemic broke out in 2002, Facebook, Twitter, and even Myspace did not yet exist. Now, people are far more digitally connected, and the ability to keep in touch over social media and video chat can have major benefits on mental health during isolation. “It shortens distances between people,” Hawryluck said.

But the internet also creates issues that didn’t exist during SARS — namely, the spread of misinformation.

“People are afraid, and that’s okay — we are human, there are things in our lives that are going to scare us, and this is one of them,” said Hawryluck. “But how we handle that fear, I think fear can be lessened if we have accurate information.”

Watch the news, for sure, but don’t just stay glued to cable news. The worst thing people can do is sit around and watch TV or watch their screens and look for the hourly update of numbers.


Information is power, and having the right info can be helpful in stopping yourself from freaking out. You don’t need to go overboard on research, but it’s a good idea to be aware of what you should do if you do think you’ve contracted the coronavirus.