Face mask, Hand Sanitiser

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family Against Coronavirus

Protecting ourselves and our loved ones from coronavirus has become a number one priority for most households, not just in the UK but across the globe, too. The advice we have all been given comes from scientific experts who have been analysing and researching the virus and many of the changes that have been implemented have become a new normal.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is an infectious illness which is caused by a coronavirus which has only been discovered recently. Other illnesses are caused by different types of coronavirus such as the common cold and winter flu, but the type which causes Covid-19 has only been discovered in humans recently.

Many people who become infected with this disease experience mild to moderate symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath

However, it can be particularly harmful to those with underlying medical conditions, particularly cardiovascular disease, diabetes chronic respiratory disease as well as older people.

How is it spread?

Much of the underlying mechanisms of the new coronavirus are unknown and scientists are making discoveries about it every day. However, it is spread through droplets of saliva or nasal discharge, so for example, when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, it’s likely they’ll also be shedding some of the virus. It is for this reason that we should all follow good respiratory behaviour to help prevent the spread.

There are several studies which conclude that many people carrying the virus are asymptomatic and so, are unaware they have it because they show no signs or symptoms. These people may be referred to as silent carriers and a huge problem with this is, they may be passing on the disease without knowing it. This makes it difficult to track and trace.

Therefore, it is important for all of us to follow the advice given by scientific experts as well as the government and also to be personally extra vigilant to help protect ourselves from the virus as well as prevent its spread.

How to protect yourself and your family

Hand washing

You should adopt good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is particularly important if you have been in a public place, touched foreign surfaces or after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

If you do not have access to handwashing facilities i.e. water and soap, then you should use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. You’ll need enough to cover all the surfaces on your hands, rubbing them together until they are dry (usually for at least 20 seconds).

Social Distancing

Distancing ourselves from other people when we are outside our home is important, particularly because COVID-19 can be spread by people who aren’t showing any symptoms.

You should:

  • Keep a distance of at least 6 feet or approximately 2 metres from other people at all times
  • Stay away from crowded places and avoid mass gathering
  • Keep a distance from people who are vulnerable such as those who are at higher risk

You should avoid close contact with unwell people, even if they live in the same household.

Wear a face covering

The UK government guidance for wearing face coverings changed in England at the beginning of June. Currently, everyone on public transport must wear a face covering while hospital visitors and outpatients must wear a face mask or covering while all staff will need to wear a surgical face mask.

Summary

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Although many people will experience mild symptoms, it can be particularly harmful to those with underlying health conditions or older people. Therefore, it is important to adhere to social distancing guidelines, adopt good handwashing techniques and wear a face mask if you are in an enclosed space, using public transport or visiting a hospital.

Sources

Roberts, M. (2020). Coronavirus: Who Should Wear a Face Mask or Face Covering? Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51205344

Wycliffe, W, E et al. (2020). Presymptomatic Transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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