Young school student washing their hands

Focusing on good hygiene practices, especially hand hygiene, will reduce your risk of getting sick.

05 March 2020

Focusing on good hygiene practices, especially hand hygiene, can help you reduce your risk and prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses, including coronavirus.

The following tips are good to remember as we start to head into the cooler months.

Good general hygiene practices include:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Washing your hands regularly
  • Practising correct cough etiquette
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cleaning surfaces regularly
  • Staying home from work or school if you’re unwell and avoiding social activities or mass gatherings
  • Avoiding visiting people in aged care or other residential care facilities, or people in hospitals if you’re unwell.

Hand hygiene practices

Your eyes, nose and mouth are a major pathway for respiratory viruses. If you touch a contaminated hand or surface, viruses can transfer to your hands. That’s why it’s important to regularly clean your hands.

Hand washing shouldn't just follow toilet use. You should also clean your hands:

  • after you cough or sneeze
  • before you eat and when you prepare food
  • after you handle animals
  • when you care for someone unwell.

Washing your hands frequently with liquid soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Washing your hands properly takes about as long as singing "Happy Birthday" twice (20 to 30 seconds). Dry your hands with a hand dryer or paper towel.

Always use soap and water if your hands are visibly soiled.

Respiratory hygiene

When coughing or sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth and nose with the bend of your elbow or use a disposable tissue. Immediately discard the tissue into a closed bin and perform hand hygiene.

Social distancing

Maintain at least 1.5 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. If you’re too close to somebody, you can breathe in droplets which may contain viruses.

Stay up to date on the situation with novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the ACT by visiting

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