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How to protect yourself and others — coronavirus (COVID-19)

Everybody is at risk of getting COVID-19. For most people, they will only develop mild illness and recovery easily, but others may develop severe sickness.

To protect yourself, your family and the community from getting COVID-19 you must maintain good hygiene and practice social distancing (also called physical distancing).

Do

  • Stay home if you are sick
  • If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, get tested
  • Stay 1.5 metres away from other people—think two big steps
  • Wash your hands lots with soap and water, or hand sanitizer
  • Sneeze or cough into your arm or a tissue. Then put the tissue in the bin.

Do not

  • Go near people if you are coughing or sneezing
  • Touch your mouth, nose and eyes
  • Shake hands
  • Hug or kiss people.

Restrictions on meeting up with other people, in homes and in public places like restaurants and parks, are changing often. To find out what current restrictions in Queensland are, visit the Public Health Directions page.

Advice for people most at risk of getting really sick from COVID-19

Some people are more likely to get really sick with COVID-19. As restrictions continue to ease in Queensland, people still need to take extra steps to protect themselves and those most at risk. See below our advice on who is at greater risk and how to protect them.

Those at greatest risk are:

Social distancing

Social distancing (also called physical distancing) is one way to help slow the spread of viruses and can help protect the people in our community who are most at risk of getting really sick from COVID-19.

Why social distancing matters. Social distancing of 1.5 metres decreases the exposure of coronavirus (COVID-19). With no distancing 1 person infects 2.5 people every 5 days, leading to 406 people infected in 30 days. With 50% less exposure 1 person infects 1.25 people in 5 days leading to 15 people infected in 30 days. With 75% less exposure 1 person infects 0.625 people in 5 days, leading to 2.5 people infected in 30 days.

Practical tips

Protective equipment

Face masks

You don’t need to wear a face mask unless your doctor has told you to or you are caring for someone who might have COVID-19.

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is stay home if you are sick and wash your hands often.

  • If you have been told to wear a face mask, avoid touching it while you’re wearing it. If you do, wash your hands.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks. Immediately replace the mask if you have coughed or sneezed into it.
  • When disposing of a mask, put it in a sealable bag to ensure the used mask won’t be touched by others. Then put the sealed bag in the bin.
  • Always clean your hands immediately after removing your mask and putting it in the bin.

Gloves

You don’t need to wear gloves to protect yourself from getting COVID-19. In fact, wearing gloves could help the spread of the virus to yourself or others.

This is because germs you pick up on gloves can transfer to other surfaces. You might also touch your face while wearing the gloves which can transfer any germs on the gloves to you and make you sick.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to regularly clean your hands and practice social distancing.

For more information on using face masks in the community visit the Australian Government website.

Cleaning at home

We know that germs can survive outside of the body, on surfaces, after a person coughs or sneezes. Lots of cleaning is important for reducing the spread of germs and reducing the number of germs surviving on surfaces.

Reducing the number of germs in the environment can break the chain of infection.

Follow these steps for effective cleaning:

  • Start the cleaning process in the cleanest areas and finish in the dirtier areas.
  • Wear single-use or reusable gloves. Wash reusable gloves with running water and detergent and hang outside to dry.
  • Wash your hands after you have finished cleaning and removed gloves.
  • Clean all frequently touched surfaces at least weekly so that surfaces are visibly clean.
  • Clean at least daily if anyone in the household is sick. This includes items such as kitchen benches, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.

Cleaning process

  • Remove germs from surfaces by rubbing the surface with detergent and water. Using a detergent will help to loosen the germs so they can be rinsed away with clean water.
  • Rinse and dry the surface. Allowing the surface to dry will make it harder for germs to survive and grow.
  • Use a clean cloth each time.

Cleaning equipment

  • Good cleaning equipment includes mops with detachable heads, disposable cloths or cloths that can be washed, and vacuum cleaners fitted with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters to reduce dust.
  • Equipment should be well maintained, cleaned and stored.
  • Use different cloths for different areas, e.g. kitchen, bathroom, toilet.

Disinfectants

  • You only need to use disinfectants if a surface has been contaminated with potentially infectious material.
  • Most germs do not survive for long on clean surfaces when exposed to air and light.
  • Regular cleaning with detergent and water should be enough to reduce germs.
  • Disinfectant must be used correctly, following the manufacturer’s instructions to effectively kill germs.
  • A surface must be cleaned first for a disinfectant to kill germs.