What can you do to help protect yourself from coronavirus?

Health officials are urging the public to follow advice to help slow the further spread of Covid-19, as the ninth case has been confirmed in the UK.

The UK chief medical officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate, but they say the risk to individuals remains low.

It is thought that the strain of coronavirus, officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation, spreads from person to person through cough droplets.

Here are some of the ways people can best keep themselves safe.

– What can people do to protect themselves?

A nationwide campaign to slow the spread of Covid-19 advises people to carry tissues to catch coughs and sneezes and bin the tissues immediately. They should not use their hands to cover their mouth and nose.

They should also wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or use sanitiser gel.

People should not touch their eyes, mouth or nose if their hands are not clean and they should avoid close contact with people showing signs of fever.

– Will face masks work?

Members of the Chinese community in Manchester wearing face masks (Peter Byrne/PA)
Members of the Chinese community in Manchester wearing face masks (Peter Byrne/PA)

Health officials have raised doubts over the effectiveness of using the masks to protect against the virus.

The type of face masks being regularly used by the public are surgical masks which are loose fitting, intended for short periods and “do not offer great protection with extended use”, says the Science Media Centre.

The World Health Organisation has warned that the run on face masks and other protective equipment could make it harder for those on the frontline tackling the disease.

Dr Jake Dunning, head of emerging infections and zoonoses, Public Health England, said there is “very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use” outside of clinical settings.

He added: “People concerned about the transmission of infectious diseases would do better to prioritise good personal, respiratory and hand hygiene.”

– Should I stop kissing or hugging people?

Professor John Oxford, from Queen Mary University, says he believes Covid-19 is caused by a “social virus” and has advised people to think about their social interactions.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What we need to do is less of the handshaking, hugging, kissing, that sort of thing, because this virus looks like it’s spread by ordinary tidal breathing, not necessarily colds, sneezing and coughing.”

The NHS advises avoiding close contact with anyone who is unwell.

– Is it safe to use public transport?

Update on #coronavirus:

A further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine. The individual acquired the virus in China.

More information:▶️ https://t.co/JxyPR6oLcNpic.twitter.com/NK5F3ggs7P

— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) February 12, 2020

Doctors have warned that the London Underground could be a hotbed for the spread of Covid-19, following the confirmation of a case in the capital.

Dr Nathalie MacDermott from the National Institute for Health Research said London commuters should continue to go about their business as usual.

“Provided the individual followed the Government’s advice (to self-isolate) there should be little concern of transmission to the general public in London,” she said.

– What should I do if I am concerned about my symptoms?

Anyone with symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath who has returned from China within the last 14 days should self-isolate and call the NHS.

This also applies to travellers who have recently returned from other parts of China, such as Macau and Hong Kong, or Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia.

Health professionals will then arrange for people with suspected cases of coronavirus to be tested in one of multiple labs across the UK.