What you can do

Last Updated: 04 Apr 2020 11:53am

Prevent the spread

Personal hygiene is an important protection against COVID-19 and all respiratory illnesses. You can help slow the spread of illness by:

  • washing your hands often with soap and warm, running water (or alcohol-base hand rub), especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • using a tissue (or flexed elbow if a tissue is not readily available) to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, then putting the tissue in the rubbish
  • staying at home if you are sick, unless you are told to see a doctor
  • keeping two large steps from others if you can, when you are out in public
  • wearing a facemask if you are unwell with COVID-19 symptoms and need to be around other people (for example, to access arranged medical care)
  • knowing the signs of illness.

Hand hygiene

Practising good hand hygiene is your best defence.

How to wash

  • Use soap and warm, running water if you can.
  • Make sure the soap and water get on your whole hand – palms, backs of hands, thumbs, fingertips, wrists and the webbing between your fingers.
  • Rub your hands for 15–20 seconds, or for as long as it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song slowly.
  • Rinse and dry well.

When to wash

  • After coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.
  • Before touching your face, especially your mouth, lips, nose, eyes.
  • Before eating, drinking, preparing food/drinks.
  • After caring for someone who is unwell.
  • After going to the toilet.
  • After handling money, especially if you’re eating or handling food.

General household and workplace cleaning

Cleaning is an important way to slow the spread of viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.

For frequently touched surfaces like doorhandles, tabletops, desks, light switches, railings, shared keyboards and mice, taps and handles:

  • Clean these surfaces frequently, making sure you remove any visible dirt and organic matter so that the disinfectant can work well.
  • Regularly wipe the surface using your normal household or workplace detergent/disinfectant, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.

Surfaces that are less often touched:

  • Clean these surfaces at least when they start to look dusty or dirty and immediately after any spillage or contamination.
  • Use your normal household or workplace detergent, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.
  • Damp mopping is better than dry.

Social distancing

Social distancing means increasing physical space between you and other people. It is important to exercise social distancing because COVID-19 is most likely to spread by close contact with an infected person, or by contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

For more information see the Guide to social distancing.