HEALTH
16/03/2020 12:04 PM AEDT | Updated 16/03/2020 12:09 PM AEDT

It's Up To Us To Slow The Spread Of Coronavirus – Here Are 5 Things Everyone Should Be Doing

As China and Hong Kong have reportedly contained the virus, it's time to up our game.

Update: See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.

As confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise in the UK, elsewhere in the world, countries appear to be getting ahead of the virus. 

Reports suggest coronavirus may have been contained in Wuhan, China, where it originated, with the number of daily cases falling. A similar story is being reported from Hong Kong

At least 313 people in Australia have tested positive while five people have died after contracting COVID-19.


The virus has infected more than 150,000 people worldwide and killed over 5,600.

Some have questioned if the strict regimes of quarantine imposed by these places are sustainable, but the news does provide food for thought.

If we’re going to stop, or slow down, the spread of coronavirus in the UK, we need to make a collective effort. There’s no point dousing yourself in hand sanitiser if the person next to you on the bus has refused to self-isolate after a trip to northern Italy.

Here are some steps we can all follow to make a difference. 

1. Wash your hands 

Public Health England (PHE) has continually said hand washing is key to slow the spread of coronavirus. In order for it to be effective, use warm water and soap, rubbing between the fingers and washing for at least 20 seconds – or the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday, twice. If you’re out and about without access to a tap, hand gel can help. 

If your local shop has sold out of hand gel, don’t be tempted to make your own. With no way of tracking alcohol concentrations, you don’t know if you’re making a solution that’s too weak (and won’t kill the virus) or too strong (which will damage your skin). Instead, stick to soap and water. 

2. Be careful with screens 

There’s no point washing your hands thoroughly if you immediately touch a contaminated screen. It’s most common for coronaviruses to be transmitted via coughs or sneezes, but touching a contaminated surface could fuel the spread. 

Because of this, the advice is to wash your hands immediately or use an alcohol-based hand gel after using public touch screens, such as self-service checkouts. Some academics are also recommending you clean your phone twice per day to reduce the risk of contamination.  

Apple says phones should be cleaned by turning off the device and using a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth – for example, a glasses cloth. If you still spot smudges or smears, use a soft, lint-free cloth with warm soapy water, and avoid getting moisture in openings (like the charging port). The company advises against using cleaning products or compressed air. Advice from Samsung Galaxy is similar. 

3DSculptor via Getty Images

3. Follow the self-isolation rules 

If you’ve travelled from a high-risk area or have been in contact with someone who may be infected, it’s important to self-isolate and follow the government guidelines. 

For starters, you shouldn’t have visitors to your home and you should ask friends and family members to drop off supplies (food, medicine, etc) on your doorstep. If you order takeaways or online food shops, tell the driver to leave the goods outside. You shouldn’t have any physical contact with them.

Self-isolating in shared housing is more difficult, but you can still reduce the risk of passing potential infections on to your housemates by following PHE’s advice. This includes staying in your room with the window open where possible, using separate towels from other household members, and using your own kitchen equipment. 

4. Look after your pets

There is no evidence that pets can be infected with the new coronavirus, according to the World Health Organisation, but some charities are recommending precautions as we continue to learn more about the virus. 

The RSPCA and Dogs Trust advise people who have been told to self-isolate and have tested positive for Covid-19 to try and make alternative arrangements for someone else to look after their pet until they are past the 14-day mark (or they feel better). This will allow dogs in particular to continue with their normal exercise routine while you remain housebound. 

You should also avoid being kissed or licked by your pet – and don’t share food with them. Some charities recommend staying in another room as often as possible if you’re self-isolating. 

5. Take it seriously 

Finally, don’t ignore the advice offered by health professionals. If your friendship groups are anything like ours, you’ll have probably heard plenty of dismissive “it’ll be fine!” remarks over the past few weeks, with some ignoring self-isolation guidelines. There’s a difference between “keep calm and carry on” and being selfish – and don’t even get us started on the panic buying.

To stop the virus spreading and limit the wider implications of mass isolation, think of others and avoid being a dick. It’s quite simple.