What are the means of prevention against the coronavirus?

The number of proven cases of coronavirus in world is constantly increasing. The concern grows and the French tend to rush to pharmacies to equip themselves with respiratory masks and hydroalcoholic solutions, which leads to shortages, known for the former and potential for the latter. What are the good reflexes to protect yourself from the virus?


  1. Wash your hands well, the first barrier gesture
  2. Hydroalcoholic gel, an ally in the face of epidemics
  3. The mask, in some cases only
  4. Don’t touch your face
  5. Clean common surfaces and objects regularly
  6. Avoid close contact
  7. Avoid crowded places, especially hospitals
  8. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products
  9. Respect the rules of hygiene in case of cough
  10. What to do if there is a risk of exposure to the virus?

Faced with the coronavirus epidemic, this is an opportunity to recall the various prevention measures, the most effective way to protect yourself from the virus according to experts. ” S i barriers these measures are well done, that is what works best against the virus ,” recalls Dr. Agnes Ricard-Hibon, president of the French Society of Emergency Medicine (SFMU). What are these essential gestures?

Wash your hands well, the first barrier gesture

As with any epidemic, a regular and effective hand washing is essential to reduce the risk of contamination.

According to the recommendations of the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, to wash well it is recommended to:

  • Pass them underwater;
  • Soap them preferably with liquid soap then rub them for 30 seconds;
  • A thorough wash should include the nails, fingertips, palms and outside of the hands, knuckles and wrists;
  • Rinse them with clean water;
  • Dry your hands on a clean towel or in the open air.

This reflex makes it possible to inactivate the virus if it is present on your hands. For the frequency, repeat this gesture as soon as necessary, either:

  • As soon as you arrive at home or at the office;
  • After taking public transport;
  • After each visit to the toilet;
  • Before taking care of a child and after changing it;
  • Before cooking or having dinner,
  • After coughing or sneezing.

Hydroalcoholic gel, an ally in the face of epidemics

In the absence of water and soap, use an alcoholic gel to clean your hands. The rules are the same, the gesture is to be repeated whenever necessary. ” The gel is just as effective as washing with soap and water “, specifies Dr. Agnès Ricard-Hibon

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The mask, in some cases only

Since the beginning of the epidemic, pharmacies have been faced with an increased demand for respiratory masks , many of which have found themselves out of stock. In reality, this reflex is not useful for protecting oneself from illness.

” The wearing of this type of mask by the non-sick population in order to avoid catching the disease is not part of the recommended barrier measures and its effectiveness has not been demonstrated, ” said the services of the ministry.

In fact, wearing a mask is useful not to spread the disease through the postilions (coughing, sneezing), but not to avoid catching it.

In addition, in the event of prolonged contact with a contaminated person, these paper masks do not offer sufficiently effective protection, in particular because they allow unfiltered air to pass.

There are then “respiratory protection” masks (type FFP2), equipped with a device for filtering dust and pathogens. They are indicated for ” people in contact with sick people, to avoid contaminating nurses or doctors who care for them,” according to the ministry. Gloves and protective glasses are also provided for the latter.

Don’t touch your face

In general and particularly during an epidemic, avoid putting your hands to your nose, mouth or even your eyes as much as possible . The hands may have been in contact with contaminated surfaces.

Clean common surfaces and objects regularly

A study published March 4 in the American journal JAMA showed that patients with the virus contaminated their bedroom and bathroom . To avoid the spread of the virus, strict hygiene is essential .

Indeed, scientists have shown that if environmental contamination was a potential means of transmission, the virus did not survive cleaning with a disinfectant for everyday use, carried out twice a day.

The study was conducted by researchers from the National Center for Infectious Diseases in Singapore and the DSO National Laboratories. From late January to early February, they examined the rooms of three patients kept in isolation. They tested one of the rooms before daily cleaning and the other two after disinfection measures.

For the first room, the patient had a simple cough, while the other two showed more severe symptoms with cough, fever, shortness of breath for one and sputum of pulmonary mucus for the other.

Result, on 15 surfaces analyzed, the first patient had contaminated 13, including his chair, bed, window and floor . In his bathroom, 3 surfaces were found to be contaminated out of the 5 tested, including his sink and bowl . This suggests that stool is a route of transmission.

The air samples from his room were negative, while those taken from his ventilation grilles were positive. Contaminated droplets can therefore be transported by air flows.

However, the other two chambers tested after being cleaned showed no signs of the virus .

During an epidemic and to minimize the risk of contamination, keep your home clean and tidy by regularly cleaning all surfaces. You can use soapy water or white vinegar . ” The virus can remain on objects. The best is to use bleach to disinfect its interior “, adds the president of the French Society of Emergency Medicine. It is also advisable to regularly wash the household linen and to think of cleaning the objects which you use and handle every day like your mobile phone for example. Also remember to ventilate regularly to renew the air.

Avoid close contact

The coronavirus is transmitted by postillions, in particular through coughing and sneezing. Close contact is now considered necessary for the transmission of the virus. It is recommended to limit close human contact. ” We no longer kiss, we no longer shake hands, ” said the doctor.

Avoid crowded places, especially hospitals

To limit the risk of being exposed to the virus, it is recommended to avoid crowded places and gatherings. Hospitals are also to be avoided as much as possible for obvious reasons. If you are forced to go there, strictly observe the hygiene measures.

And at work? 

Employers must recall the rules of hygiene and make available to employees means of protection such as hydroalcoholic gel and masks if necessary.

If an employee poses a risk of contamination, he should no longer go to his workplace and remain in quarantine at home. A decree published on February 1, 2020 in the Official Journal cancels the waiting period for non-sick insured persons, compensation will therefore be paid from the first day of absence.

The notice of work interruption must be provided by a doctor from the Regional Health Agency. These measures also apply to parents whose child is the subject of an isolation measure and who cannot have him looked after and must therefore remain at their home.

Avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products

This precautionary measure is justified because meat, fish and milk when they are eaten raw, present a higher risk of contamination. If you have to go to markets, be sure to respect the rules of hygiene when handling dead animals and avoid contact with animals possibly present on these markets.

Respect the rules of hygiene in case of cough

If you cough or sneeze , remember to always cover your mouth, preferably with your elbow. Wash your hands each time, use clean, disposable handkerchiefs which you then dispose of in a covered bin.

What to do if there is a risk of exposure to the virus?

  • Respect the incubation period and stay in quarantine, symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear;
  • At the first symptoms such as fever, cough or dyspnea, call 15 directly;
  • Do not go directly to your GP or to the emergency room;
  • Wear a spray mask to protect your surroundings;
  • Avoid human contact, especially with frail people (children, the elderly, immunocompromised, pregnant women);
  • Stay home until you heal.


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