Preventing the spread

There are a number of measures you can put in place in your everyday life to help protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19. These practices have become familiar in recent years, but it's easy to let good habits slide.

Preventing the spread

Practising good hygiene is the best defence against most viruses.

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel. It is important to note that both soap and alcohol break virus particles apart, but in different ways.
  • Wear a face mask when leaving your home.
  • Avoid touching things in public spaces as much as possible.
  • Avoid touching your face, as this can transfer the virus from your hands to your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid touching other people, such as shaking hands or hugging. You can greet each other with a wave instead.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or a flexed elbow when you cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and wash your hands thoroughly or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. If you are unable to avoid people who do have flu-like symptoms, such as members of your household, then encouraging them to wear a mask at home may also help to protect you.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

Viral particles can last for some time on surfaces, so wiping down surfaces frequently and washing your hands afterwards is important.

COVID-19 Door Poster
Those living with lung disease or lung cancer are at higher risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19. This poster, to be placed at the entry of a residence or workplace identifies that someone within the premises is living with a lung condition and requests that those entering undertake extra precautions.

Wearing a mask

Wearing a mask is an important defense against catching and spreading the virus. When worn, face masks should be fitted to your face without causing discomfort. Face masks are generally well tolerated by people, even those living with a lung condition. If you have questions or concerns about wearing a face mask due to your lung condition, please consult with your treating healthcare team about the type of mask best suited to you.
Face masks are ineffective if they are worn incorrectly. Common mistakes when wearing face masks include not covering the nose and mouth adequately and having an incorrect fit. It’s a good idea to practice using a mask in the safety of your home to become comfortable with safely donning and removing the mask and to ensure your breathing isn’t impacted by the face mask.

Follow these steps when donning and removing a face mask:

  • Before touching your face mask, wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching the face mask while using it.
  • If your face mask becomes moist, replace it with a clean one.
  • Remove the face mask by the ear loops or ties and avoid touching areas of the mask that touch your face.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removing your face mask.

Watch the video for further instruction on how to properly fit a mask and how to don and remove a mask hygienically.

Replace your mask at the right time

If you live with a chronic cough or have developed a cough due to being unwell, your coughing will likely make the inside of your mask moist. Replace your mask as soon as it becomes moist as the mask is now less effective.

Surgical masks are designed as single-use, disposable products. Even if the mask looks clean, do not wear a surgical mask more than once. Dispose of the mask in the bin and wash your hands thoroughly.

Fabric face masks can be worn more than once but need to be washed daily. Wash fabric face masks in hot, soapy water as soon as possible. Store your face mask in a sealable plastic bag when not wearing.

Follow government advice

It is important to follow local advice regarding wearing of face masks. You can find this information on your state health department website.

Types of face masks and covers

Type Features and Recommendations
P2 or N95 masks

It is not recommended that members of the public use P2 or N95 masks to reduce spread of viruses.

The one-way valve is less effective at filtering the air you breath out meaning viruses may be transmitted to others in proximity.

Rigid design may make this mask more difficult to remove hygienically. If not removed carefully, you may spread contaminants on the surface of the mask to your face or hands.

Store-bought disposable facemasks

Endorsed by the World Health Organisation. Also know as surgical masks.

Provides 3 layers of synthetic non-woven materials which provide protection to the person donning the facemask and others in proximity.

Easier to place and remove from the face hygienically.

Fabric facemask

If worn, fabric facemasks should have an inner layer of absorbent material (eg. cotton), a middle layer of non-woven material (eg. polypropylene) and an outer layer of non-absorbent material (eg. polyester).

Not all fabric facemasks have 3 layers of fabric or use appropriate materials to filter air in and out of the mask.

Fabric facemasks should be washed daily and stored in a sealable plastic bag when not worn.

Face covers

Face covers refer to wardrobe items (e.g. bandanas, scarfs) that may be fashioned into a face cover. However, these types of items are not considered as effective personal protective equipment.

Consult your treating healthcare team before using a face cover to prevent the spread of coronavirus.