8 tips to help prevent coronavirus infection and illness

Excerpt: The human coronavirus is commonly spread through respiratory droplets in the air from a sick person, close personal contact, or by touching a surface with the virus on it. You can take steps to protect yourself and prevent the spread of the virus by washing your hands often, not touching your face, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, avoiding close contact with sick people, and practicing good respiratory hygiene.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent illness from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), so the best way to prevent infection and illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

The human coronavirus is commonly spread from an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when coughing or sneezing, or close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, according to the Government of Canada.* The virus is also spread when someone touches a surface with the virus on it, and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands thoroughly.*

Here are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones and prevent the spread of coronavirus:

  1. Clean your hands often. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,* says HealthLink BC. If soap and water aren’t readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cleaning your hands often helps to lower your risk of infection and reduce the spread of infection to others.

  2. Avoid touching your face. Take special care not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, since these are the most likely ways for the virus to enter your body,* advises the World Health Organization.

  3. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Potentially contaminated surfaces may include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks,* says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  4. Keep a safe distance from sick people. Maintain a safe distance of at least two metres between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing since the virus is thought to spread between people who are within that distance.*

  5. Avoid sharing personal items with others. Don’t share food, drinks, glasses, utensils, towels and other household items with others.*

  6. Practice good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue and immediately wash your hands for at least 20 seconds,* advises Mayo Clinic.

  7. Greet without physical contact. Greet people with a friendly wave, smile, nod, or bow.

  8. Stay in, if you feel sick. Avoid close contact with others if you feel unwell. If you have a cough or fever, seek medical attention.*

*The following sources are references for this blog in order of appearance:

1. Government of Canada. “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention and risks.” (2020), online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html

2. HealthLink BC. “Common questions about COVID-19.” (2020), online: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/common-questions-about-covid-19

3. World Health Organization. “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public.” (2020), online: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019) (COVID-19), Steps to Prevent Illness.” (2020), online: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html

5. Mayo Clinic. “Coronavirus disease: What is it and how can I protect myself?” (2020), online: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/expert-answers/novel-coronavirus/faq-20478727