How do I protect myself from Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Hand and respiratory hygiene

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and try to prevent touching your face.

The most common way that viruses are passed on is through the hand-to-mouth route - for example, when we cough or sneeze into our hand and then open the door this provides a quick easy method of viral transmission. Most people unconsciously touch their faces numerous times a day – if our hands aren’t clean, this can aid the transmission of numerous viruses.

Therefore, a quick easy and effective way to protect yourself is to ensure you wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, only use hand sanitiser if soap and water isn’t available.  Consider establishing a routine of washing hands prior to preparing food and eating, before and after work, exercise, using public transport and obviously using the toilet. 

Look at our articles on 5 ways to stop germs spreading and How to wash your hands

Planning ahead and managing social distancing 

To allow us to protect our vulnerable loved ones, allow public services much needed management time, and to ensure we retain a societal responsibility for our communities, planning ahead provides us with the reassurance that we have continuity and mitigation strategies in place.

The use of social-isolation and social distancing can help with slowing down the spread of coronavirus, therefore the Government has initiated a nationwide social isolation policy.

Ensure you have a robust plan in place to manage your essential shopping. Consider using online supermarket delivery services or asking friends or family to help. Please remember you don’t need to stockpile food and medicines as this is counterproductive for the wider society. 

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for essentials as infrequently as possible (i.e. food and medicines)

  • medical needs, this includes your own or if you are a carer for a vulnerable person

  • travelling to and from work for those who must continue working and cannot work from home

  • undertaking exercise in a socially distanced format

For those with school age children, there are numerous online resources to help with education and entertainment for children of all ages. Also consider how you can support your physical and mental health in these unprecedented times.

Don’t forget to think of others too. Do you have friends, family or neighbours who might need extra help?

Intelligent use of health services and resources 

Health care providers are currently busier than ever with not only our normal daily management of health and illness but also the increased Coronavirus impact therefore it is important to consider our use of services.

If you start to experience symptoms and believe you could have Coronavirus, do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital as you could pass the infection to others. 

Use NHS 111 or call NHS 111 if you need to speak to someone.  The majority of people who contract Coronavirus will experience mild symptoms that can safely be managed at home and will not require medical or hospital treatment, if you are concerned you are at greater risk or your symptoms are severe contact NHS 111 in the first instance.  All medical emergencies should be managed through 999. If you commence with any coronavirus symptoms it is important to contact the NHS testing service on 119 who will advise on your next recommended course of action.

For general health advice, use credited online resources www.nhs.uk provides evidence based advice, or alternatively try your local pharmacy for advice and signposting.

In the first instance telephone your GP surgery as they may be able to give telephone advice.  Services like 999 or Accident and Emergency should only be used for genuine emergencies.

Information sources

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be fabulous sources of information but sadly this information may not be fact based and can quickly raise anxiety and spread concern.  The spread of misinformation, myth and rumour can create serious health and social implications for our society. 

When looking for Coronavirus information the following will provide the most up to and evidence-based information:

Government information - gov.uk/coronavirus

NHS information - nhs.uk/coronavirus

Travel information - gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Accredited Twitter feeds - Public Health England @PHE_uk & Department of Health and Social Care @DHSEgovuk 

This information has been compiled using Government advice and third party information. This page is being reviewed and updated as appropriate, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. However, please be aware that Government advice may have changed since the last update.