- To protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19) it’s important to think about how the virus is spread.
Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person's nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces). Keep this in mind. It will help you remember all the things you need to do to protect yourself and others from the virus.
Some of the things you can do
- keep a space of 2 meters (6.5 feet) between you and other people.
- reduce physical interactions with people.
- reduce the number of people you meet every day.
- avoid communal sleeping areas.
- avoid crowded places.
- work from home unless it is essential that you go to your workplace.
- do not shake hands or make close contact, if possible.
Help slow the spread of coronavirus
To help slow the spread of coronavirus:
- anyone who has symptoms should behave as if they have the virus and self-isolate for 14 days.
- everyone should limit unnecessary social contact as much as possible.
- at-risk groups should avoid close contact with people outside the home.
How to protect yourself and others from coronavirus
- Wash your hands properly and often.
- Cut your nails regularly.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.
- Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Avoid close contact with people - keep a distance of 2 meters (6.5 feet) between you and others.
- Avoid crowded places, especially indoors.
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Stay at home if you are sick to help stop the spread of whatever infection you may have.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
- Do not share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups.
- Do not shake hands.
How to wash your hands with soap and water
- Wet your hands with warm water and apply soap.
- Rub your hands together until the soap forms a lather.
- Rub the top of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
- Do this for about 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands under running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
Hand hygiene at home
When you're at home or not in the hospital, make sure you clean your hands:
- after you use the toilet
- once you clean up after your pet
- before you prepare food, handle food or eat
- after touching raw meat
- after you use public transport
- when you get home after meeting lots of people
Cleaning your hands can help you avoid:
- colds and flu
- tummy bugs that cause diarrhea, such as norovirus
- eye infections such as conjunctivitis
- superbugs such as MRSA and VRE
Many of these infections are common in children. Parents and childcare workers should always make sure children clean their hands regularly.
Wash your hands properly and often
You should wash your hands:
- after coughing or sneezing
- before and after eating
- before and after preparing food
- if you were in contact with someone who has a fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
- before and after being on public transport if you must use it
- before and after being in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd)
- when you arrive and leave buildings including your home or anyone else's home
- if you have handled animals or animal waste
- before having a cigarette or vaping
- if your hands are dirty
- after toilet use
Keep your hands in good condition, moisturize them often.
Hand hygiene in healthcare settings
If you're a patient with an infection, staff will support you and tell you how to reduce the spread of bacteria (bugs).
Follow all the steps that your doctor or nurse gives you to help control your infection.
The best way to stop picking up and spreading infection is to:
- clean your hands often
- remember to clean your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before eating
- use your own soap, flannel, sponge, and razor
- avoid sharing food, newspapers or other personal items with patients
- limit contact with patients and keep away from their bed space
- tell staff if facilities in a hospital or clinic are not clean
When you go home, the risk of you spreading bugs is much lower. But you should still keep your hands and toilets clean at all times.
If you're visiting a patient, clean your hands when you enter the ward and when you leave. If you're visiting for a long time or helping a patient, clean your hands regularly while you're there. You can use soap and water or alcohol hand rub, which you can find in hospitals and health centers.
If there is any dirt on your hands or under your fingernails, you will need to use soap and water. You can then make sure they are properly clean by using alcohol hand rub.
Do not wear disposable gloves instead of washing your hands. The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.
Disposable gloves are worn in medical settings. They are not as effective in daily life.
Wearing disposable gloves can give you a false sense of security.
- sneeze or cough into the gloves - this creates a new surface for the virus to live on.
- contaminate yourself when taking off the gloves or touching surfaces.
- not wash your hands as often as you need to and touch your face with contaminated gloves.
Using masks is unlikely to be of any benefit if you are not sick.
Sick people will be advised by their doctor when to use a mask. Healthcare workers need masks and other personal protective equipment to protect them from infection during their work.
Infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19) can be worrying. This can affect your mental health.