Take action: Minimise your risk of being exposed to coronavirus

Take action: Minimise your risk of being exposed to coronavirus

Greg Murphy looks at way to minimise your risk of being exposed to the coronavirus

Originating in the city of Wuhan in China, the Covid-19 virus transmits effectively in humans and appears to have a higher mortality rate than more common illnesses such as seasonal flu.

The symptoms include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

A large study based in China found that 80% of cases so far presented with mild symptoms of the virus, 15% had more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or other lung problems, while fewer than 5% of cases were critical.

Those most at risk from the virus include older people, those with respiratory problems, heart disease, and/or diabetes.

The viral nature of the disease has prompted countries around the world to create public health measures in an effort to contain the epidemic.

But what can you do to help minimise the risk of being exposed to the Covid-19 virus? There are a number of steps you can take.

Wash your hands

Take action: Minimise your risk of being exposed to coronavirus

Health organisations across the world are recommending that people wash their hands with soap and warm water regularly throughout the day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends using alcohol-based hand sanitiser when you do not have access to soap and water.

The HSE recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and to make sure they are properly clean

    It has issued the following steps:

  • Wet your hands with warm water and apply soap
  • Rub your hands together until the soap forms a lather
  • Rub the top of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails
  • Do this for about 15 seconds
  • Rinse your hands under running water
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.

Keeping your hands clean is essential to kill viruses and to stop the spread of harmful bacteria and germs.

Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, and mouth

Take action: Minimise your risk of being exposed to coronavirus

Our hands touch many surfaces during our day and can pick up any number of germs. Once contaminated, your hands can spread these germs to your eyes, nose or mouth, giving them a direct path to enter your body. Some may find it difficult to break the habit, but bear in mind it’s strongly recommended by the WHO.

Practice good respiratory hygiene. It might sound obvious, but covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough is critical to preventing the spread of germs to other people.

Droplets can spread viruses, and by practising good hygiene methods you can protect people around you from sicknesses such as cold, flu, and Covid-19.

Ideally, you should use a tissue to catch any possible germs leaving the body, but if you’re caught short, cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow.

Make sure to dispose of your tissue immediately after use.

Meanwhile, if you’re around someone who is sneezing or coughing, health officials recommend you keep at least a one-metre distance from them to avoid breathing in a spray of liquid that may possibly contain viruses.

SELF-isolation, AND Limiting social interaction

  • If you feel unwell, stay at home from work, college, or school;
  • If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing it is advised you contact your GP or health service, but call in advance;
  • If you’ve had close contact with a case of the coronavirus, a public health doctor may have asked you to limit your social interactions and avoid contact with people as much as possible.

‘Close contact’ may be considered as spending over 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person or living in the same accommodation as them.

The HSE advises these are only examples and will only apply while Ireland remains in the containment phase.

When asked to limit social interactions:

  • Do not go to school, college, or work
  • Do not use public transport
  • Do not go to meetings, social gatherings, group events, or crowded places
  • Do not have visitors at your home
  • Do not go shopping
  • Do not come into contact with older people, people with chronic health problems, or pregnant women
  • Do not travel outside Ireland.

However, if you have Covid-19 symptoms you may be asked by a medical professional to self-isolate until you can be tested and wait for results.

This will protect you and help stop the spread of viruses and infections.

    The HSE recommends that you:

  • Stay at home, in a room with the window open
  • Keep away from others in your home as much as you can
  • Check your symptoms — call a doctor if they get worse
  • Phone your doctor if you need to — do not visit them
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes using a tissue — clean your hands properly afterwards
  • Wash your hands properly and often;
  • Use your own towel — do not share a towel with others
  • Clean your room every day with a household cleaner or disinfectant.

A full list of dos and don’ts is available on www.hse.ie as well as information for those who live with other people, caring for a child, or someone who is in self-isolation.

Keep informed

Stay up to date with the latest developments of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Follow advice being issued by the Department of Health, the HSE, your healthcare providers, or medical professionals.

Your employers should also keep you informed on any developments concerning the coronavirus and how it may affect your work.

Do not trust rumours spreading online or on social media and trust only reputable sources for your information on Covid-19, such as Dr Doireann O’Leary (@dr.doireannoleary) on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

STOP❗️ Don’t panic. Covid19. Here’s what you should know: 👩🏼‍⚕️ Covid19 is basically a first cousin of the common cold. If you’ve had a cold you’ve likely had coronavirus. But covid19 is stronger than most other coronaviruses. 👩🏼‍⚕️ What are the symptoms? Sore throat, fever, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, aches and pains, abdominal pain and pneumonia in severe cases. 👩🏼‍⚕️ How does it spread? Coronaviruses are spread by droplet contamination. This means it’s spread from person to person when we cough/sneeze on one another (🤦🏼‍♀️) or when we touch a contaminated surface. This is why coughing in to your elbow and sneezing in to a tissue is so important. 👩🏼‍⚕️ How can I prevent spread? The virus can’t infect you through your skin. It enters our body through the nose and mouth mostly. So don’t touch your face. Regular hand washing with soap and water is critical. The soap dissolves the outer layer of the virus and kills it. Alcohol hand gel in between hand washing and regular wiping down surfaces is also helpful. 👩🏼‍⚕️ Why are people concerned? We, as doctors, are worried about our vulnerable patients. For most people reading this - YOU WILL BE FINE! It’ll be a sniffly headcold. But for about 2-3% of people it will be severe. We don’t have treatments or a vaccine for this yet so it’s making our job of protecting weaker patients more difficult. We’re also concerned about healthcare workers being out sick and therefore not being able to deliver healthcare effectively. 👩🏼‍⚕️ Who is vulnerable? People with conditions like asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and anyone who’s on immune suppressing medicines eg. Methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis. Over 65’s are also particularly at risk. 👩🏼‍⚕️ What can vulnerable people do? Things like avoiding public transport and avoiding large gatherings can help. 👩🏼‍⚕️ What are GP’s doing to prevent spread? We’re asking all patients with symptoms to phone first so we can assess over the phone. This helps protect patients in the surgery and healthcare workers. 👩🏼‍⚕️ Do I need a face mask? No. These masks are for patients and healthcare staff. If you have more q’s go to stories👉🏼

A post shared by Dr. Doireann O’Leary (@dr.doireannoleary) on

On top of this, make sure you stay up to date with the latest virus hotspots and avoid travel to these areas.

For more information on how to minimise your risk of being exposed to the Covid-19 coronavirus visit:

Hand sanitiser or soap and water?

Take action: Minimise your risk of being exposed to coronavirus

Sales of hand sanitiser have soared in the last few weeks with many supermarkets already having run out of supplies.

But, to prevent the spread of Covid-19, is an alcohol-based hand sanitiser going to give you more protection than washing your hands with warm water and soap?

Health experts agree that hand sanitisers need to be at least 60% alcohol to kill most viruses with most store-bought variants containing 60-95%.

The downside of these, however, is the overuse of alcohol-based sanitisers can cause irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin.

According to a 2019 study by the American Society for Microbiology, water and soap is a more effective method of keeping your hands clean and germ free.

Soap has some mild antibacterial properties and, while it doesn’t kill all viruses, it is the best method for keeping your hands clean.

When you wash your hands it is important to make sure that they are properly dried as contamination is more likely to happen through wet hands.

Best practice is to use paper towels rather than an air drier.

Overall, health officials advise washing your hands with soap and warm water regularly where possible, but if you don’t have access to these, a hand gel will suffice while you’re out and about.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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