Protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

15 April 2020

It seems everywhere you look right now there are news stories, rumours and opinions about how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sorting the fact from the fiction can be tricky so we’ve pulled together the best up-to-date advice to answer your pressing COVID-19 questions.

How can I avoid contracting the virus?

Everyone can help protect themselves against infection and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community by maintaining good hygiene practices and following social distancing guidelines, both outlined below.

What hygiene precautions should I be taking?

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser when soap and water are not available
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately after use
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth

This short video summarises the basics of good hygiene to help reduce the spread of viruses.

Am I washing my hands well enough?

Did you know there’s a right way to wash your hands? You could be doing it wrong! Refer to the chart below to check your technique. For more in-depth advice, read this detailed guide to correct hand-washing procedure.

Allianz Global Assistance Overseas Health - how-to-wash-your-hands 
Chart developed by Health Direct

How can I make my home more hygienic?

  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently-used surfaces like desks, benchtops and doorknobs

  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently-used objects like phones, wallets, cards and keys

  • Keep your home or workplace well-ventilated by increasing the amount of fresh air available – try opening the windows or putting on a fan

Is there a way to boost my immune system against COVID-19?

Eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking plenty of water are two of the best ways to keep your immune system strong. This gives you the best chance of fighting the virus if you come into contact with an infected person.

There’s no evidence that high doses of vitamin C or other vitamin supplements provide any additional protection against viruses.

Getting enough sleep is also very important for your immune system. Studies show that sleep-deprived people can have suppressed immunity and are more at risk of catching viruses.

Should I be wearing a surgical mask?

If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, yes. Wearing a surgical mask can help prevent you from spreading it to others. If you’re caring for someone who is infected it’s also advisable to wear a mask for your own protection.

But if you’re well, you don’t need to wear a surgical mask. There isn’t much evidence that widespread use of masks by healthy people prevents transmission in public.

Is there a vaccine?

No, there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. But scientists around the world are busy working on developing one. The World Health Organisation says this may be available within 18 months.

How do I practice social distancing?

Stay at home and only go out if it’s absolutely necessary. Avoid physical greetings like handshakes, hugs and kisses and try to stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people whenever possible. The short video below explains how social distancing (also known as physical distancing) works. Find out more about social distancing.