Posted on 25th March, 2020

Social Distancing

Protect yourself and others
To help reduce the spread and protect those who are most at risk, it is important that you take the recommended steps to protect yourself and others. To prevent the spread of viruses, practise good hygiene and social distancing. You should also follow advice for travellers, public gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups.

Good hygiene
Everyone must practise good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading. Good hygiene includes:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • disposing of tissues properly
  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
  • cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets

Read more about protective measures against coronavirus on the World Health Organization website.
If you have a confirmed case, you need to self-isolate to prevent it spreading to other people.

Surgical masks
Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others.
If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask. There is little evidence that widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people prevents transmission in public.

Vaccination
There is no vaccine for COVID-19, but there is one for the flu.
You should get your flu shot when it’s available. Getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time can make you very ill.
Scientists from around the world are working on developing a vaccine. The World Health Organisation believes this may be available within 18 months.

Social distancing
One way to slow the spread of viruses is social distancing. There are practical things you can do, to protect those more susceptible to the virus.

Households

  • Practice good hand and cough/sneeze hygiene
  • Avoid handshaking and other physical greetings
  • Regularly clean shared high-touch surfaces, such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs
  • Increase the amount of fresh air by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
  • Buy more goods and services online so you limit visits to the shop
  • Consider what travel and outings are necessary, both individual and family, and go to open places such as parks
  • Place posters in your bathroom to encourage regular hand washing with young children

Social distancing in the workplace
To reduce the spread of germs in the workplace:

  • Stay at home if you are sick
  • Consider if large gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled
  • Stop handshaking and other physical greetings
  • Hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
  • Reconsider non-essential business travel
  • Defer large face-to-face meetings
  • Hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
  • Promote good hand and cough/sneeze hygiene and provide hand sanitisers for all staff and workers
  • Take lunch outside rather than in the lunch room
  • Clean and disinfect shared high-touch surfaces regularly
  • Consider opening windows and adjusting air conditioning for more fresh air
  • Limit food handling and shared food in the workplace
  • Promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (kitchen/canteen) staff and their close contacts

Social distancing in schools
To reduce the spread of germs or viruses in schools:

  • If your child is sick, do not send them to school (or childcare)
  • Clean hands when entering school and at regular intervals
  • Defer activities that lead to mixing between classes and years
  • Avoid queuing, handholding and assemblies
  • Promote a regular handwashing schedule
  • Clean and disinfect shared high-touch surfaces regularly
  • Conduct lessons outdoors where possible
  • Consider opening windows and adjusting conditioning for more fresh air
  • Promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts

Who is most at risk?
In the UK, the people most at risk of getting the virus are those who have:

  • recently been in in a high-risk country or region (mainland China, Iran, Italy or Korea)
  • been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19

Based on what we know about coronaviruses, those most at risk of serious infection are:

  • people with compromised immune systems (such as people who have cancer)
  • elderly people
  • people with chronic medical conditions
  • people in group residential settings

How it spreads
The virus can spread from person to person through:

  • close contact with an infectious person (including in the 24 hours before they started showing symptoms)
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face

COVID-19 is a new disease, so there is no existing immunity in our community. This means that COVID-19 could spread widely and quickly.

To help reduce the spread and protect those who are most at risk, it is important that you take the recommended steps to protect yourself and others.

 

Published – 20/03/2020

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