How to Avoid Catching Coronavirus?

The simple answer to the question “How do you avoid catching coronavirus (COVID-19)?” is to stay a long way away from other people!

Unfortunately it is difficult to completely avoid other people, all of the time; so for most people it will mean reducing contact with other people and taking a lot more care about where you go, who you meet and what you do.

So what can you do to avoid catching coronavirus (or at least reduce the chance of catching it)?

Here are a few important steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19, and some links to official information sources, such as the UK Government, the NHS, and the World Health Organization.

Currently the UK Government has asked everyone to stay at home, except in certain circumstances. More details below.

Wash your hands with soap and water more regularly to avoid catching coronavirus

The most effective way to kill the coronavirus on your hands is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Washing hands with soap and water
Wash your hands with soap and water more regularly to avoid catching coronavirus

Not only does this help to remove the virus, but the soap actually destroys the virus by breaking bonds in the virus structure.

After washing your hands, dry them with a clean towel or paper towel.

It is especially important to wash your hands before eating, drinking or preparing/handling food.

Be aware that in shared spaces taps, soap dispensers, hand driers, shared towels, door handles and other surfaces which you may touch could possibly spread the virus.

Only touch what you need to and, if you are concerned, consider doing the following:

  • Wash the tap (with soapy hands or with a wet and soapy paper towel), then wash your hands.
  • Use an elbow to open a door, or use a paper tissue to hold a door handle then throw it away.

Use an alcohol-based hand gel – if unable to wash your hands

Hand-washing with soap is the most effective method of removing and killing the virus from your hands. However, when it is not possible to do this, use an alcohol-based hand gel as an alternative method if your hands are not visibly dirty.

Hygiene experts, the NHS and Public Health England all agree that to kill most viruses, a hand sanitiser gel requires a minimum of 60% alcohol content to be most effective. Most contain between 60% and 95% alcohol.

Don’t touch your face

Try to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.

It is especially important to try not to do this when you are in shops or on public transport.

Social distancing – reduce contact with other people

“Social distancing” means to avoid or reduce close contact with other people.

Everyone should be taking steps to limit the contact they have with other people, but this is especially important for those who are elderly or have an underlying health condition.
Even as the UK government is makes plans to reduce the restrictions, social distancing is still very important and many restrictions will still apply for some time.

  • Reduce contact with other people.
  • Maintain a safe distance from other people.
  • Work from home where possible.
  • If possible, choose quiet times to make shopping trips or use a shopping delivery service.
  • Walk or cycle or drive, but try to avoid using public transport unless absolutely necessary.

It is possible for some people to have the COVID-19 and show little or no symptoms, but still be able to spread the disease to others.

The fewer people you come into contact with, the lower your chance of becoming infected, or of spreading the virus.

UK Government advice on Coronavirus

What is a safe distance for social distancing?

The World Health Organization recommends you maintain at least 1m (3 feet) distance between yourself and others.
However, the current UK Government advice is to maintain a 2m (or 6 feet) distance from any other person.
Some people prefer to have an even greater distance between themselves and other people if possible.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public, from the World Health Organization.

Self-isolating at home

Even before the lockdown, many elderly and vulnerable people had already been advised to self-isolate, to reduce their chances of catching COVID-19.

The UK Government guidance is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers.

COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable
Information for shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.
Published 21 March 2020

Increase your cleaning

Think about more frequently cleaning surfaces, door handles and objects which are touched frequently, and those in shared spaces.

Increasing cleaning could help to reduce the spread of the virus and the chance of picking up the virus from a contaminated surface.

In suitable conditions coronavirus COVID-19 can live on surfaces for a number of days. So extra cleaning is essential.

  • Do extra cleaning in shared spaces, such as hallways, bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Pay special attention to door handles, light switches, and shared items such as phones, computer keyboards or mice.
  • Do not share cups, drinking bottles or cutlery with others.

Coronavirus can survive longest on smooth surfaces such as stainless steel, glass, plastic and smooth shiny cardboard. It is thought that it can live for up to 3 days in suitable conditions.

How to kill coronavirus with the correct cleaning

Cleaning with soap can kill coronavirus, but to be sure of killing any virus you may want to use disinfectants, alcohol based cleaners, bleach or a steam cleaner in some areas.
More details on effective cleaning to remove viruses and bacteria.

Food wrappers, post and packaging

There is currently no evidence that you can catch the virus from food packaging. However, there is also no evidence that you can’t catch COVID-19 from food wrappers or packaging.
As it is thought that the virus is able to survive for hours or days on certain surfaces, you may want to be extra cautious at the moment, and take some extra precautions.

Quarantine your food?

Items such as tinned food, and other items which you don’t need to use immediately, can be set aside for a few days, possibly placed in box.
After 3 or 4 days any virus which was on it should be unable to cause infection.

Cleaning food wrappers and packaging

You could carefully clean food packaging and wrappers after a shopping trip. We have been wiping some wrappers and containers such as sliced bread, cheese wrappers, yogurt pots and milk bottles – especially concentrating on items which are to be used quickly and are not to be cooked.

We use a wet soapy sponge or a soaped folded up paper towel to wipe the packets and bottles over, then either rinse them off under a cold tap or wipe them off with a dry paper towel.

Ensure you wash your hands before and after cleaning, and wash any surfaces which have had the food on them.

You may want to remove some foods items such as biscuits or cakes from their packaging and place them into a reusable container. (Obviously making sure to be careful when removing any food from packaging that you use a clean hand to touch food or new food containers.)

Unnecessary wrappers, such as cardboard outer packaging, can be disposed of. Fruit and veg can have their wrapping removed and be placed in a box until needed.

Shopping bags could probably benefit from a clean too – again, with soapy water.

Should you wash fruit and veg with soap and water?

In most cases it is not a good idea to wash fruit and veg with soapy water. It may damage the food, and is probably not necessary.

If you don’t need to eat the items immediately, remove any packaging and throw it away, then leave the fruit or veg in a suitable place for 3 days before eating.

If you need to eat it quickly, then just wash it in water.

Most fruit and veg which may have been sprayed with pesticides or other treatments should be left to soak in water (for around 20 minutes) to help dislodge any surface chemicals as well as dirt.

Oranges or bananas could be quickly washed with soap and rinsed (do not leave them in soapy or warm water). This can also help to remove pesticide residues and wax from oranges.

If you are cooking the food, then most viruses and bacteria should be destroyed by the cooking process.

Be careful how you handle the packets or bags which the fruit and veg came in, and the fruit and veg itself.
Wash your hands before and after handling.

Post and parcels

Think about how you handle post and parcels and any other items which may have been handled by lots of people before coming to you.

During the lockdown, more people are buying items online and having them delivered. These items and their packaging will have been handled by the manufacturer, the seller, the warehousing and packing staff (in the case of larger companies), and a large number of people at each stage in the distribution process. Even if the item and package itself was clean, the same delivery driver will have handled many hundreds of other items that day, possibly including several infected items.

You may want to quarantine items for a few days after they arrive, and you should certainly wash your hands after handling them.


The may be a little bit OCD, but at the moment we just don’t know enough to tell if it is possible for the virus to spread from packaging, food, etc. However, it is known that coronavirus can survive on some surfaces for number of hours or possibly days.


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