How best to protect yourself from the coronavirus spread

The current evidence is that most cases of Covid-19 appear to be mild.

Those who have died in Wuhan appear to have had pre-existing health conditions.

Nonetheless, the Government advice is clear - everyone must take simple measures to help prevent the spread.

Here is how to best protect yourself.

Hygiene is key

Hygiene is more important than wearing face masks, according to the NHS. Credit: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the single most useful thing to stop the spread of the virus is to wash our hands.

The Government advice is to:

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • put used tissues in the bin immediately

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

You also should resist touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Should I wear a face mask?

You will probably have seen them around, but this is what the NHS has to say.

Should I avoid public places?

The NHS says people only need to stay away if they have recently been to specific countries.

These include:

  • Hubei province in China in the last 14 days

  • Iran, areas of northern Italy in lockdown or "special care zone" areas in South Korea since 19 February

  • Other parts of mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath

  • Other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar since 19 February and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath

If you have been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, you should also stay away.

Otherwise, you should continue to go to work or school as normal.

Is there a way I can vaccinate?

There is currently no vaccine for the Covid-19 virus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.

Simple hygiene measures like washing your hands with soap and water often, and avoiding people who are unwell, can help stop viruses like coronavirus spreading.

Although the pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine is not effective against coronavirus, it is still recommended that you have it if offered to you because it can protect against other illnesses.

What if I think I have it already?

There is no vaccine for the virus yet.

Remember the symptoms – coughing, high temperature, and shortness of breath.

If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, call 111 and isolate yourself from other people.

This means you should:

  • stay at home

  • not go to work, school or public areas

  • not use public transport or taxis

  • ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you

  • try to avoid visitors to your home – it's OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food

  • you may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.

What if I have a pet?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in the US, said contact with pets should be restricted if you are sick with the virus despite no reports of animals becoming infected.

“When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick,” it advises.

“If you are sick with Covid-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.

“If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.”