What can you do to avoid getting sick? We have summarised the most important tips for you.
Recently, the first cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported in Germany, as well as several more confirmed cases in the UK. In four out of five cases, the course of the disease is relatively mild, with symptoms including coughing and fever. While there is no reason to panic, it is important to protect yourself and prevent the virus from spreading. That's why we have put together some important coronavirus information and tips for you.
Why are these protective measures important?
We should all play our part in slowing down the spread of the virus. Even if it is not dangerous for you specifically, the virus poses an increased threat to people with a weakened immune system.
How is the coronavirus being transmitted?
Coronavirus is transmitted from person to person and mainly by droplet infection. For example, the virus can get on your hands if you shake hands with an infected person. If you rub your eyes afterwards, it can enter your body via the conjunctiva. You can also be infected through contact with the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract (mouth and nose).
How can I protect myself and my environment from infection?
Coughing and sneezing etiquette
If you travel on buses and trains frequently, it's a sight you probably know all too well. To be polite, people often hold their hand in front of their face when they cough or sneeze. While this is well-intended, it's not always the best course of action. Germs are transferred to hands and other surfaces, and shaking hands can spread disease to other people.
There are four simple rules to follow to help you protect your surroundings:
1. Keep your distance and turn away: If you have to sneeze or cough, move away from those around you.
2. Use a disposable handkerchief: Use this once only, and then dispose of it in a bin with a lid.
3. Wash your hands: After sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing.
4. Sneezing or coughing in the crook of your arm: Make sure your mouth and nose are covered.
We often come into contact with viruses through objects and physical contact. Our hands, in particular, are prone to spreading germs. To minimise the risk of catching infectious diseases like coronavirus, you should follow these tips for hand hygiene:
1. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly: It is best to wash your hands whenever you arrive at home, work or college. See tips for washing your hands thoroughly here.
2. Do not touch your face: Your hands may come into contact with coronavirus. However, this does not mean that you will definitely get sick. Make sure that your hands don't come into contact with your mouth, nose or ears. This will prevent the virus from entering through your mucous membranes and causing the infection.
3. Do not eat with your hands: This is also how you avoid the virus coming in contact with your mucous membranes.
Please note that these guidelines are recommended at all times, and not just as a means to avoid coronavirus.
Keep your distance
If you come into contact with a person who is infected with coronavirus, stay a distance of at least one metre away from them.
In case of illness
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Coronavirus manifests itself with the usual symptoms of a respiratory illness, i.e. coughing, cold, sore throat, breathing difficulties and fever. In some cases those affected also suffer from diarrhoea.
What should I do if I feel ill?
Have you had contact with a person who was/is infected with coronavirus? Have you recently travelled in a high-risk area? If you show symptoms such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath, you should:
1. Immediately report to the local health department, which you can find here.
2. Contact your doctor by telephone, let them know that you suspect you may have coronavirus and make an appointment.
3. Avoid contact with other people so you do not infect them.
4. Follow the tips on coughing and sneezing etiquette and hand hygiene.
5. Keep calm. Similar to the normal flu, the course of coronavirus is mild in most cases.
You can find detailed information about coronavirus on the World Health Organization's website.