We have had several enquiries about appropriate hygiene on first aid courses with the recent ‘COVID-19’ outbreak. Firstly, it’s sensible to start with some reassurance. There are 66 million people in the UK, and at the time of writing, just 9 people have been diagnosed with the virus. At the present time the chance of being infected is incredibly low. Nonetheless, media coverage has caused significant concern and there are a few sensible things you can do to protect yourself and others. ‘Coronavirus’ is actually a large family of viruses that includes the common cold. COVID-19 is a new (novel) virus that was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The exact mechanism of how COVID-19 spreads is understandably not yet proven, but it is very likely spread by the same mechanisms as others in the Coronavirus family. The virus is most likely spread in small droplets created when someone sneezes or coughs. These can spread up to 2 meters. If you cough on your hands, you are likely to contaminate everything you touch. If someone else then touches their mouth/food, picks their nose or wipes their eye with a contaminated hand, they can contract the virus. Follow this government advice to see if there is a risk that you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.
To protect yourself Frequently wash your hands or use a sanitiser gel. Do not touch your mouth, nose or eyes unless you have just washed your hands. The World Health Organisation (WHO) say that there is no evidence that wearing a face mask in public protects you, although this is a wise precaution if you are in close contact (e.g. caring for) someone with a respiratory illness and fever. The patient should also wear a surgical mask if able. The exact time that COVID-19 can survive outside the body is not yet proven, but coronaviruses cannot usually live for more than a few hours outside of the body, so the WHO and the NHS say it is highly unlikely coronavirus can be spread through packages or products received from affected countries.