Your hands are one of the main routes that viruses make their way from surfaces to your respiratory system, so keeping them clean is one of the most effective things you can do to stop yourself contracting the virus. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water where possible and if you can’t get to a sink, an alcohol-based hand sanitiser will do the trick.
While the effectiveness of alcohol gels depends on the virus being targeted – which is why some alcohol hand rubs aren’t very effective against norovirus – the coronavirus has an envelope structure which alcohol can attack. Hand sanitisers with more than 60 per cent alcohol content are most effective at killing microbes, this is what we use at SmartCare
For the average person, regular hand washing is the most important defence against picking up Sars-Cov-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19. Face masks work by blocking droplets from coughs and sneezes that are the main transmission route of coronavirus, but not all masks are effective at filtering out very small particles and viruses can still enter through the eyes.
The only people who really need to wear face masks are those who are likely to be in close contact with infected people. There’s little evidence of a widespread benefit of face masks to the general public, and public stockpiling of surgical masks could make it harder for health workers to acquire them when they need them.
Older people and those with pre-existing health conditions tend to be hit with more severe versions of Covid-19. A study of 138 coronavirus patients at Wuhan University hospital found that the virus was more likely to affect older men with pre-existing health conditions, but young people can still contract and spread the disease – especially those who are at very high risk of exposure, such as health workers.
At the moment, health authorities’ main focus is on finding confirmed cases of Covid-19 and tracing the movements of infected people to try and build a map of where the disease is likely to have spread. However, if the increase in new cases rises so fast that containment strategies are no longer possible, this doesn’t mean that we should give up trying to slow the spread of the disease altogether. One of the major risks from Covid-19 is that a spike in cases will temporarily overwhelm the NHS so even if containment fails, health authorities will want to keep this peak as low as possible and spread out the demand on the NHS.