Coronavirus How to reduce risks

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Outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus  

Since the end of December 2019, a novel coronavirus has been spreading from the Hubei province in China and has reached many countries worldwide. Unlike an epidemic, which is a regionally occurring contagious disease, a pandemic is a worldwide epidemic that is the case of this novel coronavirus which causes the disease COVID-19. You can find an overview of the coronavirus-risk areas on the website of the WHO (World Health Organisation).   

The virus spreads typically via small droplets which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. Another person can then catch the virus by breathing in these droplets or touching objects contaminated by these droplets and then touching its eyes, nose or mouth1). The currently known incubation period is max. 14 days2).

What preventive measures to take

Containment can only be achieved through sensible behavior and the observance of general hygiene measures and especially of hand hygiene.

It is not clear how long the novel coronavirus remains infectious on surfaces and objects. Studies suggest that it may persist for at least a few hours and up to several days3). We suggest to clean objects regularly with disinfectant products.

How to reduce the risk of getting infected - tips for everyday life

No handshaking or kissing on the cheeks

Even if it seems rude at first, refrain from shaking hands with each other. Avoid physical contact in general.

Clean your hands frequently

Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially before preparing food, before eating, or when you get home. Always wash your hands after using the toilet or if the hands are visibly dirty.  Learn here how to wash or disinfect your hands properly.

Keep your hands away from your face

Pathogens can easily pass from the hands to the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth. Avoid touching your face.

Hygienic coughing and sneezing

When coughing, “hand over mouth” is well intended, but in doing so you catapult a large number of viruses out of your body, which then stick to your hands. So do not cough into your hands, but rather into your sleeve or a tissue.

Discard used tissues immediately

Throw used tissues immediately into the trash – preferably into a container with a garbage bag that you can close tightly and dispose of regularly. Then please wash your hands.

Ventilate regularly

In closed rooms, the number of viruses in the air can increase dramatically.

Regularly ventilating a room (three to four times a day for ten minutes) counteracts this and thereby reduces the risk of infection.

It also improves the indoor climate and prevents the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose from drying out.

Keep your distance and avoid crowds

Keep the greatest possible distance from other people when coughing, at least 1 meter, to avoid breathing in droplets, which could include the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, if the person is infected.

Pay attention to first symptoms

If you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, see a doctor as soon as possible. Important: call beforehand so that you are directed straight to the right health facility and thus avoiding to get in touch with too many people. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

When to use a face mask

The WHO recommends to wear a mask only when you are taking care of a person with suspected COVID-19 infection or when you are coughing or sneezing yourself. In this case the mask is to protect people around you. If you wear a mask, you should know how to use it.  

Do not share objects

Avoid sharing objects and touching surfaces in public spaces as it is known that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 remains on surfaces3). If you think an object may be infected, contaminated, clean it using a surface disinfectant followed by washing your hands.

References:

1) "How does Covid-19 spread?"; https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

2) "How long is the incubation period of Covid-19?  https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

3) How long does the virus survive on surfaces? https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses