The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.
How COVID-19 spreads
COVID-19 spreads person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
As such, it is important to maintain proper hygiene.
Ways you can reduce or slow the spread of infections include:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Stay home if you are sick (so you do not spread the illness to other people).
- Use a tissue, or cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hand. Turn away from other people.
- Use single-use tissues. Dispose of the tissue immediately.
- Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues.
- Regularly sanitize surfaces.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth (viruses can transfer from your hands and into the body).
- Do not share cups, glasses, dishes or cutlery.
The most important way to reduce the spread of infections is hand washing – always wash regularly with soap and water.
How to properly wash your hands:
- Use water and wet your hands thoroughly.
- Use soap (1-3 mL) and lather very well.
- Lather with soap for at least 15 seconds – make sure you wash between your fingers, under your finger nails, front and backs of your hands, wrists, and forearms.
- Rinse thoroughly under clean, running water. Use a rubbing motion.
- Dry your hands with a paper towel or clean towel or use an air dryer.
- Turn off the taps/faucets with a paper towel (so you do not re-contaminate your hands).
- Protect your hands from touching dirty surfaces as you leave the bathroom. For example, use the same paper towel to open the door.
Workplaces can help by having an infection control plan which includes:
- Having an infection control plan.
- Providing clean handwashing facilities.
- Offering alcohol-based hand sanitizers when regular facilities are not available (or to people on the road).
- Providing boxes of tissues and encourage their use.
- Reminding staff to not share cups, glasses, dishes and cutlery. Be sure dishes are washed in soap and water after use.
- Removing magazines and papers from waiting areas or common rooms (such as tea rooms and kitchens).
- Considering cleaning a person’s workstation or other areas where they have been if a person has suspected or identified with an infection.
- Making sure ventilation systems are working properly.