How to help prevent the spread of COVID-19

Help keep yourself, your loved ones & your community healthy

You've gotten the basics down to a T – you're washing your hands regularly and you’re keeping your distance when you're out and about. But what else can you do to help stop COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreading? We explain all. 

About COVID-19

First things first, let’s talk about how COVID-19 is passed from person to person.

As you may know, coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs. These droplets can reach another person’s nose, mouth or eyes, or fall onto nearby surfaces and objects. If someone touches a contaminated surface or object (such as a desk or phone), and then touches their nose, mouth or eyes, they could catch coronavirus. Even if someone is infected but doesn’t have symptoms (that’s called being asymptomatic, by the way), they can still spread the virus through respiratory droplets.

To help prevent the spread of infection and avoid being exposed to coronavirus, we’ve gathered eight handy tips.

Wash your hands

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again – washing your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds, is one of the most effective ways to help stop the spread of the virus.

Get your hands nice and soapy then scrub away, not forgetting your palms, under your nails, your fingertips, between your fingers, the sides of your thumbs, and even the tops. No sink nearby? You should use anti-viral hand sanitiser gel if soap and water aren’t available.* Just pop a small amount onto dry hands and rub. Simple.

It’s also a good idea to wash your clothes more regularly if you’ve been out of the house, as the virus can live on fabrics.

Wear a face covering

Phone. Keys. Wallet. Face covering. Ah, the famous four!

Whether you prefer yours plain or patterned, disposable or washable, face coverings can help to reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets (when worn correctly, of course). Not sure if you’re wearing it right? Head this way for a quick 101.

Face coverings should be worn in most indoor situations in which you come across people you don't live with. In the UK, this includes public transport, shops and supermarkets, visitor attractions and entertainment venues, and places of worship. Discover the full list here.  

What about wearing a face covering in your own home? For people living in shared accommodation, it’s a good idea to wear a face covering.

Make space

By now you’ve probably heard of social distancing. When you’re out and about in public, you should try and stay at least two metres apart from people who aren’t part of your household or support bubble. It’s not always easy (we’ve all navigated a tight supermarket aisle!) but it’s an effective way to help prevent the spread.

What about friends or work colleagues? Same applies. Try to keep your distance and avoid handshakes, high fives, fist bumps and hugs with people outside of your household or support bubble. Remember to always follow your local government guidelines.

Be sneeze savvy

Whether you’re coughing or sneezing, try to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve. This will help prevent germs propelling into the air or across the room.

You should always put your used tissues in the bin immediately afterwards and then wash your hands (20 seconds, remember!).

Clean touch points

Coronavirus can survive on surfaces for several days, however using an anti-viral disinfectant can help to kill it. With that in mind, you should clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces every day, including counters, table tops, doorknobs, toilets, phones and keyboards.

If you’re heading to the gym (if your local government restrictions allow), remember to wipe down machines and weights with disinfectant wipes before and after use – and don’t forget about that social distancing we spoke about earlier.

Let air in

Whether you prop open a door or keep a window open, you should try and ventilate your home while you have any visitors (for example care workers), and then just after they’ve left.

NHS Track and Trace

If you test positive for coronavirus, you should share information about your recent contacts through NHS Test and Trace. This will help the NHS alert other people who may need to self-isolate which could help prevent the virus spreading further.

If you can’t use the NHS contact tracing app or website, you can provide this information over the phone. Find out more here.

Get the COVID-19 vaccine

Getting vaccinated can help prevent you from catching coronavirus, and therefore stop you from spreading the disease to friends, family and your community.  

The NHS has begun the COVID-19 vaccination programme by offering the vaccine to people at greatest risk of coronavirus, as well as the people who look after them. Expect more people to be offered the vaccination by the NHS in the coming months.

Anything else?

Scientists are working hard to discover further steps we can take to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. You may have heard rumours about mouthwash, which usually contains an antiseptic to kill germs that can live on your teeth, gums and on your tongue. There's no evidence it has any effect on helping prevent coronavirus. Heard some other rumours? Us too. Head over to our coronavirus myth busters page to help separate fact from fiction.  

There you have it! Eight ways you can help keep yourself and your community safe and healthy.

*Use biocides safety. Always read the label and product information before use.

Information correct at time of publication (12.01am 07/01/2021)