Preventing transmission COVID-19

To protect yourself against COVID-19, clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitizer. If you have washed your hands, dry them thoroughly by using paper towels. If there are no paper towels available, use a hot air dryer or let your hands air dry. Your hands must be dried completely.

If you are using hand towels to dry your hands, such as in the bathroom at home, it is important to wash them regularly. If someone in your home is unwell, they should use their own hand towel.

All you need is water and a detergent such as:

  • a bar of soap
  • body wash
  • shampoo.

It does not have to be an expensive brand, and it does not have to be marked “antibacterial”.

If you are using hand sanitizer, it should contain 60% alcohol or more. Keep your nails short and clean, wash your tea towels often and consider avoiding wearing rings.

People who have symptoms and might be infected with COVID-19 are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person and when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to anyone else.

Health care workers who are caring for patients with suspected COVID-19 should use personal protective equipment to protect themselves against COVID-19.

Hand dryers are not effective in killing or preventing COVID-19 on their own, and they may increase the risk of spread of COVID-19 if used on hands that have not been cleaned properly.

Public drinking water supplies are safe to drink, however the surfaces around the fountain including the spout and button/lever could pose a transmission risk for COVID-19 and other germs. At this stage, it is uncertain how long viruses that cause COVID-19 survives on surfaces.

We recommend that you not place your mouth on the spout of a water fountain. Test the water flow and let the water run for a few seconds before drinking the water without putting your mouth or lips on the spout. If the fountain requires you to push a button or lever, clean the surface first or use your elbow. Clean your hands afterwards with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Hospitals ensure surfaces are cleaned and disinfected after each suspected case, as are ambulances. Staff also wear protective gear when cleaning to protect themselves and limit any spread of infection. Hospitals and clinicians are well trained in caring for people with infectious diseases, and in preventing their transmission to other patients.

While COVID-19 seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now mainly spreading from person-to-person. There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in America might be a source of infection with this new virus. There have been no reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in America. There is also no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.