How is COVID-19 transmitted?
How is the virus that causes COVID-19 most commonly transmitted between people?
Current evidence suggests that COVID-19 spreads between people through direct, indirect (through contaminated objects or surfaces), or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions. These include saliva, respiratory secretions or secretion droplets. These are released from the mouth or nose when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, for example. People who are in close contact (within 1 metre) with an infected person can catch COVID-19 when those infectious droplets get into their mouth, nose or eyes.
To avoid contact with these droplets, it is important to stay at least 1 metre away from others, clean hands frequently, and cover the mouth with a tissue or bent elbow when sneezing or coughing. When physical distancing (standing one metre or more away) is not possible, wearing a fabric mask is an important measure to protect others. Cleaning hands frequently is also critical.
What are the other ways in which the COVID-19 virus could be transmitted?
People with the virus in their noses and throats may leave infected droplets on objects and surfaces (called fomites) when they sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs and handrails. Other people may become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, noses or mouths before cleaning their hands.
This is why it is essential to thoroughly clean hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub product, and to clean surfaces regularly.
What does WHO recommend in order to stop or prevent COVID-19?
WHO recommends the following set of measures to prevent person-to-person spread of COVID-19
- Limit close contact between infectious people and others. Ensure a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others. In areas where COVID-19 is circulating and this distance cannot be guaranteed, wear a mask.
- Identify infected people quickly so that they can be isolated and cared for and all of their close contacts can be quarantined in appropriate facilities.
- Clean hands and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or bent elbow at all times.
- Avoid crowded places, close-contact settings and confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
- Ensure good ventilation in indoor settings, including homes and offices.
- Stay home if feeling unwell and call your medical provider as soon as possible to determine whether medical care is needed.
- In countries or areas where COVID-19 is circulating, health workers should use medical masks continuously during all routine activities in clinical areas in health care facilities.
- Health workers should also use additional personal protective equipment and precautions when caring for COVID-19 patients. More details for medical professionals are available here and here.
- Workplaces should have in place protective measures.
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