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Coronavirus prevention: how to avoid Covid-19 without going into quarantine - from hand washing to keeping your distance

The i logo The i 4 days ago
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As coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread - infecting more than 60,000 people worldwide and claiming the lives of almost 1,500 - the risk to the UK public has been raised from low to moderate by chief medical officers.

New measures declared on Monday by the Department of Health said people with the virus can now be forcibly quarantined and will not be free to leave.

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath, and there is no specific treatment available although scientists are working on a vaccine.

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For members of the public continuing life as normal, there are certain precautions to take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19.

Here's what the World Health Organisation (WHO) are advising.

The new NHS public health campaign to inform people about coronavirus says using tissues to catch a cough or sneeze and washing hands regularly are key to helping slow the spread of coronavirus (Photo: NHS/PA Wire)

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Wash your hands

One of the easiest precautions to take is to simply wash your hands frequently, with soap and water or even an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands do not look dirty.

This will eliminate coronavirus if it's been in contact with your hands.

Don't sneeze or cough into your hands

It sounds like common sense but make sure to cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue if you're coughing or sneezing. Also make sure to throw away tissue straight away into a closed bin, and clean your hands using soap and water, or alcohol-based rub.

This helps prevents the spread of germs and viruses - whereas if you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may unintentionally spread the virus to objects or people you touch.

Keep your distance

When someone is infected with a respiratory disease like COVID-19, they project small droplets containing the virus when they cough or sneeze.

If you are too close, you could breathe in the virus, so according to the WHO it's best to maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) between yourself and others, especially those coughing, sneezing or with a fever.

According to the WHO you should wash your hands frequently with soap and water (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth

Hands come into contact with lots of surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you're then at risk of transferring the virus from that surface to yourself.

Seek medical care early if your're suffering from a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing

You need to let your doctor know if you've travelled to an area in China where coronavirus has been reported, or if you've been in close contact with someone who has travelled from China and has respiratory symptoms.

A fever, cough or difficulty breathing could be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition, so medical attention should be sought quickly. Depending on your personal travel history and circumstances, respiratory symptoms could be due to coronavirus.

If you haven't been to China but have mild respiratory symptoms, practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene, and ideally stay home until you've recovered.

Be careful with animals or animal products

The WHO recommends washing your hands regularly with soap and water after touching animals and animal products, as well as avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.

You should avoid contact with sick animals or spoiled animal products, and animals in markets such as stray cats, dogs, rodents, birds or bats - as well as with potentially contaminated animal waste, or fluids on the soil, or structures of shops and market facilities.

Follow good food safety practices, and avoid consuming raw or under-cooked animal products.

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