THE big reason COVID-19 is so contagious is actually small.
The disease spreads mainly from person to person via tiny droplets of moisture that are expelled from the nose or mouth of infected people when they cough, sneeze or speak.
Community transmission of COVID-19 poses a significant risk to the health and safety of Bass Coast residents. Such transmissions occur when a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks, spreading COVID-19 to others around them, according to the World Health Organisation.
These droplets are heavy, do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground, but people can catch COVID-19 if they breathe them in.
The droplets can land on surfaces around the infected person such as tables, doorknobs and handrails. People can become infected by touching these and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. This is why people should wash their hands regularly with soap and water or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
“Everyone needs to be acting as though anyone they meet or speak to may be infective. This especially means keeping your distance,” said Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child.
They should also practise physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5m away from others and staying at home – away from crowds and public areas – as much as possible, said Bass Coast Health (BCH) infection control specialist Nicky Baker.
Infected people may not know they have COVID-19 and then can unintentionally spread COVID-19 to others. This can occur via direct contact or indirect contact from touching shared surfaces with contaminated hands for example (i.e. light switches and door handles).
“Imagine all the shared surfaces you come in contact with in public places such as shopping centres,” Ms Baker said.
“It’s important that people wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds as many times a day as they can and stay at home unless they need to leave for the four key reasons: shopping for essentials, daily exercise, work or study, and to seek medical help.”
According to the World Health Organisation, the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than four hours on copper and less than 24 hours on cardboard. Fortunately, these surfaces can easily be cleaned with common household disinfectants that will kill COVID-19.
Tips for wearing a mask
Physical distancing is the best way people can protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19 but it’s not always possible to do so.
When that is the case, wearing face masks will give people a level of protection but the masks must be worn correctly.
Here are some tips:
- Wash your hands before and after you touch your mask.
- Never use a damaged or dirty mask.
- Make sure your mask does not have holes or a valve.
- Ensure your mask covers your mouth, nose and chin, and that there are no gaps on the sides.
- Do not touch your mask while wearing it.
- Change your mask if it gets visibly dirty or wet while you are wearing it.
- Remove your mask by unhooking the ear straps and pulling it away from your face.
- Wash reusable fabric masks in hot, soapy water after each use.
- Store reusable fabric masks in resealable bags when you’re not using them.