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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and participate in society. In this article, we write about the recommended strategies for preventing the spread of disease, and then the reasons why each approach is suggested.

The following information is adapted from the World Health Organization (WHO), and NSW Health and explains each precaution, and why it makes sense.

Regularly, and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub (sanitizer) or wash them well with soap and water.

Why? Using an alcohol-based hand or sanitiser rub or washing your hands with soap and water kills viruses that may be on your hands.

What else can I wash my hands with if I don’t have handwash?

The key to effective handwashing is to wash often and wash well for at least 20 seconds. That takes about the same time it takes to sing two verses of the English version of "Happy Birthday", and this is an excellent tip for children too.

All you really need is water and a detergent (surfactant) such as:

  • A bar of soap
  • Body wash
  • Shampoo

These do not have to be an expensive brand, and it does not need to be marked "antibacterial".

  • If you're using hand sanitiser, it should contain 60% alcohol or more. Keep fingernails short and clean, wash your hand towels and tea towels often and consider avoiding wearing rings.
  • Risks of DIY sanitiser include flammability, skin irritation, chemical burns, adverse effects associated with accidental or deliberate ingestion.
  • Importantly, the use of protective gloves does not replace the need for appropriate hand hygiene, which should be performed frequently.

See also Raising Children Network's tips on handwashing under the heading Hand-washing to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Keep at least 1.5 metres of distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing or unwell.

Why? When a person coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose and/or mouth which may contain the virus. Some droplets are so fine they are a mist. You may not see them. If you are too close, you can breathe in or come into contact with the droplets that include the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Woman holding a tissue to her nose, sitting on chair 

Stay at Home. Maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from others as much as possible, and avoid crowded places.

Why? Droplets from cough or sneezes that contain the virus can spread onto other surfaces that you come into contact with and can live on different surfaces for up to 3 days. Shopping trolleys, food containers and cash could be housing the virus. The more people that you come into contact with, the higher your risk of contracting coronavirus.

Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth, and avoid shaking hands.

Why? Hands touch many surfaces over the course of a day and can easily pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can then transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can easily enter your body and can make you sick.

Make sure you, and the people around you, all follow good respiratory hygiene.

Always cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Why? Droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you help protect the people around you from infections such as the cold, flu and COVID-19.

Sick person under blanket 

Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 hotspots

(That can be cities, suburbs or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid travelling and going out  – especially if you are an older person, immune-compromised, or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19 in one of these areas.

As we have seen in South Australia, restrictions can put put in place with very little preparation time. Keeping up to date helps you plan.

Do face masks protect against COVID-19? Which face masks?

Evidence for wearing face masks from health experts suggests wearing a face mask provides an extra physical barrier and helps to reduce community transmission. For information about wearing masks, making masks, safe use of masks and more, see our blog The Latest Advice on Wearing Face Masks - COVID-19.

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 appropriate personal protective equipment to protect themselves against COVID-19. For more information, refer to the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) - Coronavirus COVID-19 from NSW Health and the Australian Minister for Health 17 July Media release.

When and how to wear medical masks.


Disability providers and self-managed NDIS participants can request access to PPE from the NMS by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., where they cannot acquire the equipment they need through their usual channels.

NSW Health also expects that NDIS providers and self-managed participants will also immediately alert the national stockpile to their ongoing PPE needs associated with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

COVID-19 Information for providers on the use of PPE.

If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad).

Why? These surfaces can carry the virus.

  • If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.

See also Running Essential Errands and Daily Life and Coping by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Note this is United States Content).

Stay home if you feel unwell.

If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
Why? National and local authorities will current information on the COVID-19 situation in your area. By calling in advance this allows your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right facility, and to implement controls that may be necessary. This also protects you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

In Australia, you can telephone:

Your local doctor's practice.
Coronavirus Health Information Line  Phone: 1800 020 080
Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). This line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Healthdirect Phone: 1800 022 222
Web: www.healthdirect.gov.au

Read our Blog on Easy English Coronavirus COVID-19 Resources for Information in Easy Read or Easy English.

Information Sourced from

Australian Health Protection Principal Committee
NSW Health
NSW Health COVID-19 - Frequently asked questions - Alerts
World Health Organization Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)  
World Health Organisation Advice for the public.

 IDEAS does information so you can do life.