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While cities across Asia remain vigilant to the spread of the novel coronavirus, many organisations – especially those in Hong Kong and mainland China – are directing employees, or at least giving them the option, to work from home.

But for those still coming to the office or are out and about in public, here is a pictorial guide on how to protect yourself, and colleagues, from the virus.

How the coronavirus spreads

The novel coronavirus is a new disease and health experts are still establishing how it spreads from person to person – but most likely it follows a pattern to similar viruses, with the most common form of spreading by cough and sneeze droplets.

When an infected individual coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of saliva or mucus. These droplets can fall on people in the vicinity, which can then be either breathed in or picked up on the hands then transferred when their person touches their face, causing the risk of infection.

For influenza, typical hospital guidelines define exposure as being within six feet of an infected individual who sneezes or coughs for 10 minutes or more.

It is believed the virus can also be spread by droplets landing on surfaces such as seats or hand rails on buses or trains or desks in school. However, a possible transmission route is dependent on how long the virus can survive on surfaces – this can vary from hours to much longer.

How to protect yourself and employees

Hand washing

Wash your hands with clean, running water and apply soap liberally. Lather your hands, including the backs, between your fingers, and under your nails and scrub vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Also read: Coronavirus: What to do if an employee is quarantined or put under medical surveillance

If the downstairs lobby at your office has a bottle of alcohol hand sanitiser available, it’s also advisable to make a habit of rubbing some into your hands each time you enter or leave the building.

Also read: Legal update: Novel coronavirus and employer obligations

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing

Once finished, discard the tissue into the bin and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue on hand, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands.

Face masks offer some protection

If available, face masks can be worn as they block liquid droplets. However, they do not stop smaller aerosol (airborne) particles that can pass through the material of the mask.

Seek early medical help

If you have symptoms of the virus such as fever, cough and difficulty in breathing consult your doctor at your earliest opportunity.

Have you travelled to China? If you have returned from mainland in China in the last two weeks, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. This also means avoiding going to work, school or public areas.

Images courtesy of The Guardian