For the last year, the focus for many has been on what we can do to protect ourselves and others from coronavirus. With cases on the decline and a recovery roadmap in place, we now look forward to a future without lockdown restrictions and the return of social contact into our lives.
However, as we seek to get back to our pre-pandemic lifestyles, the risk of COVID-19 and other highly contagious infections remains present, and the ability to maintain normality hinges on the limitation of future outbreaks.
In the coming months, if we’re able to follow the government’s route to greater freedoms, many of us will be reintroducing contact into our lives, such as seeing family and friends, visiting public venues and going into the workplace. With this increased contact comes the risk of infection and outbreaks. As such, businesses need to put in place appropriate precautions – as do individuals.
Fortunately, much guidance has been published in the last 12 months that dictates best practice for reducing the spread of coronavirus. By following this guidance, against the backdrop of the UK vaccine roll-out, all of us can help to remove the need for restrictions and make the return to everyday life as safe as possible.
Below, we have explained the steps you should take to protect yourself against COVID-19 in the long-term.
- Limit contact and maintain social distancing
- Wash hands regularly
- Carry sanitiser
- Wear mask
- Cover mouth when sneezing and avoiding excessive face touching
- Clean surfaces
- Utilise outdoor spaces
Limit contact and maintain social distancing
Since the start of the pandemic, we have been advised to limit unnecessary contact with others. While all of us are excited to get back to socialising, we should still reduce contact – particularly during this critical stage of the decline in the rate of new infections.
As such, it is vital to continue to follow government guidance and only socialise with those in your bubble or where it is unavoidable. This will help to curb infection rates so that the timeline for recovery can be met.
Public health experts are maintaining recommendations to keep two metres distance from others while out and about to further reduce risk. Even as we return to ‘normality’, social distancing will almost certainly be advisable as people and businesses re-examine their behaviours and how they can stop the spread of illness as a whole.
Wash hands regularly
A common teaching during the pandemic has been how to wash your hands regularly and effectively. It has seen many of us singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to ourselves over the sink, to achieve a thorough 20-second wash with soap and water that reduces bacteria.
It is critical that hand hygiene remains at the forefront of people’s minds. The need for frequent handwashing predates the pandemic, with many studies proving the benefits of hand hygiene. By creating a hand hygiene culture, we can reduce illness across society and protect ourselves from the 840,000 germs we come into contact with every half hour.
To limit the spread of COVID-19, we therefore need to maintain the healthy practices many of us have built during the pandemic. This means businesses ensuring employees are reminded to wash hands frequently during the workday, venues giving customers access to adequate facilities and individuals being proactive in their approach to hand hygiene.
While frequent hand washing is advised in the fight against coronavirus, there will be times where washroom facilities or hand sanitising stations cannot be accessed, including in public spaces, outdoor venues and on the move. For these occasions, it is essential to use an effective hand sanitiser to replicate the benefits of washing and eliminate germs.
An effective hand sanitiser should harness high-level bacteria-killing power. There are many solutions on the market currently, so it is vital to shop around and find one that best suits your needs. Some sanitisers even actively help to build hand hygiene habits, for maximum protection.
By identifying a hand sanitiser that works for you, you should carry it on your person at all times so you can disinfect your hands whenever you need to. In combination with hand washing, this will enforce a robust hand hygiene culture.
Wearing a mask is another practice we have had to embrace in our response to the pandemic. It is now a legal requirement in shops, hospitality venues, public transport and other public spaces. This is unlikely to change in the immediate future, in a bid to provide ongoing safety.
Masks reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by preventing the spread of germs through the mouth and nose. This lowers the chance of the mask wearer passing infection onto others. When worn correctly, with sanitised hands used to put on your mask, and in conjunction with other precautions, this offers a high level of protection for individuals against coronavirus.
Cover mouth when sneezing and avoiding excessive face touching
Regardless of coronavirus, it has always been advised to cover our mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. However, the focus on infection means it is crucial to do so now – particularly as coughing and sneezing can both be symptoms of COVID-19. This reduces the risk of droplets that can infect others. On top of covering coughs and sneezes, you should also avoid excessive face touching, as this can again spread germs from risk areas to others.
Due to the risks from coughing or sneezing onto your hands, it is often recommended to use a tissue or your elbow instead. However, if you cover a sneeze or cough with your hand, you should wash your hands straight away, covering the entire hand surface to eliminate all bacteria. By doing this quickly, you can limit the chance of spreading germs elsewhere, such as by touching surfaces or other people. This means you can keep other people safe and help prevent outbreaks.
While the risk of coronavirus transmission from surfaces is lower than person-to-person, it is still possible to get infected this way. Further, coronavirus particles can survive on some surfaces for up to five days.
Cleaning of surfaces is therefore recommended to prevent cross-contamination from compromised surfaces. For individuals, this means cleaning household surfaces and appliances, particularly in the event of an external visitor to your home. In workplaces and businesses, it means regular cleaning of communal areas.
With regular disinfection of such areas, in combination with personal hand hygiene, you can dramatically reduce the spread of coronavirus, helping to keep yourself, staff and customers safe.
Utilise outdoor spaces
It has been widely established that coronavirus infection risks are much lower in outside spaces compared to indoors. Due to this, much of what we have been allowed to do in lockdown has focused on outdoor settings, and these areas will be the first to be unlocked under the recovery roadmap.
Due to the decreased risk, it is worth utilising outside spaces for our socialising needs where possible. However, it’s vital to remember that there is still a possibility of transmission outdoors, so you still need to take preventative measures.
Hand sanitiser may play a crucial role in outside spaces, where handwashing facilities are not readily available. By carrying sanitiser, individuals can disinfect hands in these spaces, particularly upon contact with others or communal surfaces, helping to minimise contamination and enjoy safe experiences.
There has understandably been a lot of fear and anxiety in our lives during the pandemic, which many may find continues as they look to return into the world and spend more time away from home and with others. Knowing how to protect ourselves will ease concerns and enable us to enjoy enhanced safety while minimising the need for restrictions.
When used in combination, the steps above will empower people to play their part in curbing infection rates and safeguarding themselves and others against coronavirus. However, buy-in is essential from individuals, employers and businesses to ensure a blanket approach in preventing outbreaks.
We aim to assist individuals and workplaces in their bids to facilitate post-pandemic recovery and enable safety. One such way this can be done is through the maintenance of healthy hand hygiene habits through the UK’s first wearable hand sanitiser device: Orbel.
Orbel is a premium hand sanitiser with clip-on innovation, ideal for people operating in any setting. It also features habit-forming technology that encourages you to systematically disinfect your hands throughout the day.