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How novel coronavirus spreads

You are probably most contagious if you have symptoms. However, you may still infect others even if you have no symptoms.

Novel coronavirus is transmitted through droplet and contact spread in the same way as for example the common cold or influenza.

Droplet spread

When an infected person coughs, sneezes or shouts, small droplets containing virus are ejected into the air and can spread over short distances. These droplets can be inhaled by another person or land in their eyes, nose or mouth. Droplet transmission is effectively prevented by keeping a distance of at least 1-2 metres apart from other people.

Many people together in small rooms as well as poor ventilation and air circulation indoors also increase the risk of infection. So open door and windows and air out your home regularly.

Contact spread

Contact spread can occur by direct as well as indirect contact.

Direct transmission occurs when an infected person has saliva or snot on their hands and then, for example, shake hands with somebody who then proceeds to touch their own nose, eyes or mouth. 

Indirect transmission occurs when an infected person either coughs, sneezes, shouts or touches something with the virus on their hands. The next person who comes along and touches the same surfaces can then become infected if they proceed to touch their own nose, eyes or mouth. 

The risk of contact spread is reduced by washing or sanitising your hands often and by cleaning of contact points and surfaces regularly and thoroughly.

Updated 25 JAN 2021