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Public health advice for living alongside coronavirus.

First published:
29 March 2022
Last updated:

Living alongside coronavirus

We have learnt so much during the pandemic. We all made changes to the way we work, live and socialise, to protect each other and to keep Wales safe.  These changes can be used to not only protect us from future waves of coronavirus, but from other respiratory infections such as flu and norovirus.

If we all keep doing the following protective behaviours, we can continue to keep each other and Wales safe:

  • get vaccinated
  • maintain good hand hygiene
  • stay at home if you’re unwell and limit your contact with others
  • wear a face covering in crowded indoor or enclosed places, including health and care settings
  • meet others outdoors
  • when indoors, increase ventilation and let fresh air in where possible

How coronavirus spreads

The most common ways coronavirus is spread are:

  • through the air as an aerosol which can stay in the air for a long time
  • through the air by droplets which can spread nearby and onto surfaces
  • by direct contact with an infected person
  • by direct contact with a contaminated surface

This helps us understand what kind of places and situations are most risky. So places where we might come into close contact with a lot of other people will have a higher risk. Similarly, places where ventilation is poor will mean that stale air is not removed and fresh air is not introduced, giving coronavirus the opportunity to build up. Places where people are breathing more heavily can also provide opportunities for coronavirus to spread further. So the following places are particularly risky:

  • indoor places where ventilation is poor
  • indoor places where people, particularly lots of people, are together for a long time
  • any place, particularly indoors, where people have close contact with others
  • any place, particularly indoors, where people are breathing heavily close to others or over extended periods, such as through strenuous exercise, loud singing, chanting, or shouting, coughing or sneezing

The different ways coronavirus spreads are illustrated in the diagram.

Smaller infected droplets travel further and remain airborne longer, improve ventilation to reduce risk.

How to reduce the risk

Get vaccinated

Vaccination is still our best defence against COVID-19, it has saved lives and prevented many people needing hospital treatment for COVID-19.

It’s never too late to have your vaccine. Even if you’ve had COVID-19, it’s still important you have the jab to increase your protection, if you’re eligible. Those who are eligible are encouraged to come forward when they are sent an invitation. 

Good hand hygiene

Washing your hands with soap and water, or regularly using hand sanitiser when you don’t have access to soap and water, helps stop the virus spreading.

Our hands touch many surfaces throughout the day, and this can help the virus to move around. If you have the virus on your hands, you can transfer it to other surfaces or to your eyes, nose or mouth. This is one way that viruses can enter your body and infect you. Washing or sanitising your hands removes viruses and other germs, so you are less likely to spread them or to become infected.

Stay at home and avoid contact with others if you have symptoms.

To reduce the risk of giving the virus to others you should stay at home if you're unwell and avoid contact with others if you have symptoms or test positive.

If you have symptoms and are unable to stay home, here are ways you can reduce the risk of passing the virus on to others:

  • Wear a face mask if you do need to be indoors with others – this protects other people from catching the virus.
  • Reduce the number of people you see, and the time spent with them. The fewer people you meet, the fewer people you will infect. The longer time spent with people, the more like they are to catch the virus.
  • Physically distance from others - staying at least 2 metres away from people you do not live with, can still reduce the chances of the virus spreading. It’s also a good idea to keep your distance from other members of your household as much as possible, especially if they are vulnerable.

Meet others outdoors

Meeting others outdoors is safer than indoors as there is less risk of infection. Coronavirus spreads through airborne particles when we breathe and talk, and even more when laughing, shouting or exercising. By doing these activities outdoors means the particles which can be blown away by the fresh air can help to reduce the spread.

When indoors increase ventilation and let fresh air in

Opening windows and doors if you’re inside, can help to decrease the number of infectious particles hanging around. Letting fresh air in, can help to reduce the spread. Coronavirus spreads through airborne particles when we breathe and talk, and even more when laughing, shouting or exercising. Doing in a poorly ventilated indoor space, increases the risk even more.