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Beat Winter Viruses

It’s that time of the year again. The season of long nights, warm jumpers, gift buying and festive gatherings.  

It’s also the time of the year when illnesses spread quickly and easily. Common viruses like colds and flu, norovirus, RSV and COVID-19 can have a big impact on our lives and disrupt our plans.

That’s why it is so important we all do what we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Here are some simple actions you can take to stop the spread of illnesses this winter. They may seem obvious, but evidence shows that they work.

Wash your hands regularly

Washing your hands regularly is one of the best ways to protect yourself from illnesses. Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 30 seconds.

When someone coughs or sneezes, germs can get onto objects which, if touched, can leave germs on our hands. If they’re not washed off, germs can get into our body through the eyes, nose, and mouth, making us unwell. They can also be passed on to others.  

Regular handwashing can prevent one in five respiratory illnesses like colds and flu. But it’s important to wash your hands correctly. 

Follow these five steps when washing your hands: 

  1. Wet your hands with water and apply soap

  2. Rub your hands together

  3. Scrub every part of your hands: your palms, fists and fingertips, and in between your fingers

  4. Rinse your hands well with water

  5. Dry your hands

To prevent the spread of germs, it’s particularly important to wash your hands 

  • After using the toilet 
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing 
  • After using public transport 
  • After coming back home from shopping 
  • Before and after eating or handling food 
  • After touching animals or pets 

If you don’t have immediate access to soap and water then use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Hand sanitiser is an effective way to prevent the spread of most, if not all, viruses.  

Practise good hygiene

These simple actions can help stop the spread of germs: 

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze 
  • Throw your used tissues in the bin 
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands 
  • Clean surfaces that are touched regularly 
  • Avoid touching your face 

Let fresh air in

When meeting indoors, try to let some fresh air in.

When someone with a viral infection like flu or COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release small particles that contain the virus that causes the infection.

These particles can be breathed in or enter our body through the eyes, nose or mouth. The particles can also land on surfaces and be passed from person to person via touch. 

Letting fresh air in can help remove stale air that contains virus particles and prevent the spread of common winter illnesses.

Stay at home if you're unwell 

While it’s tempting to head out even if you’re feeling unwell, you could be spreading the illness to your friends and family. Staying at home helps to contain the illness.

Stay up to date with your vaccines  

Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill health.  Find out more about vaccinations including flu and COVID-19 here.

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