Washing hands for 20 seconds is at the heart of an expanded public awareness campaign in the fight against COVID-19, launched by the Health Secretary today. (4th March 2020)
The next phase of the campaign reinforces the importance of washing your hands more often - when you come in from home or work after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze, and before you eat or handle food. This should be for 20 seconds, using soap and water or hand sanitiser. You should cough or sneeze into tissues before binning them to also prevent the spread of the virus.
The campaign has been brought forward in response to the current global situation. It offers clear, practical advice so the public can play their part in preventing and slowing the spread of the virus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“The UK is a world leader in preparing for and managing disease outbreaks and I have every confidence in our nation’s ability to respond to the threat of COVID-19.
“We all have a role to play in stopping this disease and that’s what this expanded campaign is all about – making sure the public knows exactly what they should be doing to keep themselves and others safe. Washing hands regularly is the single most important thing that an individual can do.
“Public safety remains our top priority. The government and the NHS are working 24/7 to fight this virus. It’s imperative that everyone follows clinical advice by contacting NHS 111, and not going to A&E if you develop symptoms.”
The first phase of the campaign went live in February 2020, in response to rising confirmed cases of coronavirus both globally and in the UK. Yesterday, the Prime Minister published a ‘battle plan’ for tackling the disease in the UK, which sets out plans for a range of scenarios.NHS, Public Health England, and Local Authority Public Health teams up and down the country are working tirelessly to support everyone in need of advice, testing or treatment.
Since January, public health teams and world-leading scientists have been working round the clock on the COVID-19 response, and the government has been working with partners across the country to provide tailored advice to the public, travelers coming into the country and those most at risk from COVID-19.
Public Health England has already concluded over 13,000 tests so far, and all but 51 have been negative. The latest figures are published daily at 2pm click here to view. Expert teams are actively tracing those who have come into contact with a suspected case.
Unless an individual has been contacted already or has traveled to an affected area, they should be reassured it is not necessary for them to take any further action.
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