Protecting against Corona Virus (COVID-19)

Corona Virus COVID-19 Pandemic

How can I protect myself / my family?

The best way to protect yourself is the same as you would against any respiratory infection. Practice good hygiene by:

  • making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Make sure you stay home if you are sick.

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

The key to handwashing is to wash often and wash well for at least 20 seconds. That’s about the time it takes to sing two verses of “Happy Birthday”, which is a handy tip for children too.

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

  • a bar of soap
  • body wash
  • shampoo

It doesn’t have to be an expensive brand, and it doesn’t have to be marked “antibacterial”.

If you’re using hand sanitiser, it should contain 60% alcohol or more. Keep your nails short and clean, wash your tea towels often and consider avoiding wearing rings.

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

Face masks are not recommended for the general population.

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 Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) – Coronavirus COVID-19.

Are there enough face masks in NSW?

Additional supplies of face masks have been distributed for specific health workers by NSW Health and the Australian Government to meet current demand. NSW Health will continue to monitor supplies of face masks in NSW.

Do hand dryers prevent COVID-19?

Hand dryers are not effective in killing or preventing COVID-19 on their own, and they may increase the risk of spread of COVID-19 if used on hands that have not been cleaned properly.

To protect yourself against COVID-19, you should clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser. If you have washed your hands, dry them thoroughly by using paper towels. If there are no paper towels available, use a hot air dryer or let your hands air dry. Your hands must be dried completely.

If you are using hand towels to dry your hands, such as in the bathroom at home, it’s important to wash them regularly. If someone in your home is unwell, they should use their own hand towel.

Is it safe to use public drinking fountains or water bubblers?

Public drinking water supplies are safe to drink, however the surfaces around the fountain including the spout and button/lever could pose a transmission risk for COVID-19 and other germs. At this stage, it is not certain how long viruses that cause COVID-19 survives on surfaces.

NSW Health recommends that you not place your mouth on the spout of a water fountain. Test the water flow and let the water run for a few seconds before drinking the water without putting your mouth or lips on the spout.

If the fountain requires you to push a button or lever, clean the surface first or use your elbow. Clean your hands afterwards with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. NSW Health recommends that organisations carry out more frequent cleaning of water bubblers and fountains.

How is hospital equipment and furniture being cleaned to protect against COVID-19?

Hospitals ensure surfaces are cleaned and disinfected after each suspected case, as are ambulances. There is an Infection Prevention and Control Practice Handbook that outlines the appropriate steps for cleaning a room to ensure there are no viruses remaining. Staff also wear protective gear when cleaning to protect themselves and limit any spread of infection.

Is it safe for me to go to a hospital where a COVID-19 case is?

NSW Health works with its hospitals to maintain high infection control standards. NSW hospitals and clinicians are well trained in caring for people with infectious diseases, and in preventing their transmission to other patients.

How do we know the people who have had COVID-19 are no longer infectious?

People with confirmed COVID-19 infection stay in isolation under the care of medical specialists until they are no longer experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Before they are released from isolation, they have tests to see if they still have COVID-19 and the specialist care team assesses they are no longer infectious. Once they are discharged they have a follow up assessment by the medical team to make sure they remain well.

Are there limits on purchasing some medicines?

Australian supplies of medicines are strong, however recent increases in demand have meant some community pharmacies have experienced a temporary strain on supply.

New limits have been set on dispensing and purchase of some prescription and over-the-counter medicines, so that everyone can access what they need, when they need it.

Pharmacists will be required to limit dispensing of certain prescription products to one month’s supply at the prescribed dose, and sales of certain over-the-counter medicines will be limited to a maximum of one unit per purchase.

  • Salbutamol inhalers (also known as Ventolin, Asmol and Airomir) provided on an over-the-counter basis will be subject to new enhanced controls, and pharmacists now have to confirm the patient’s diagnosis.
  • Some medicines, including children’s paracetamol products, will now be located behind the pharmacy counter.
  • Only one salbutamol (Ventolin, Asmol and Airomir puffers) or children’s paracetamol paediatric product will be supplied per customer.

Can I swim in ocean pools and baths?

Ocean pools and baths are filled with untreated sea water, which is changed periodically.

The risk of contracting COVID-19 through swimming in ocean pools/baths is considered low. The COVID-19 virus is unlikely to survive for long periods in salt water.

People using ocean baths should:

  • stay at home if sick
  • stay at home if you have been asked by health authorities to self-isolate
  • do not swim if you have had diarrhoea
  • shower with soap before swimming
  • minimise time spent out of the pool
  • comply with social distancing (try to keep 1.5 metres from other people as much as possible)
  • comply with protective measures when in the change rooms and outside the pool (clean your hands, cover coughs and sneezes)
  • follow the usual health advice to avoiding swimming for least 1 day after rain
  • try to attend when the pool is less busy

Operators should clean facilities and surrounds regularly.

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