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Coronavirus Everyday Preventive Actions

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There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website

For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

When and How to Wash Your Hands

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Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.

Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
washing hands under faucet

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Why? Read the science behind the recommendations.

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

using hand sanitizer


You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Learn more here.

How to use hand sanitizer

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Be prepared if your child’s school or childcare facility is temporarily dismissed

Learn about the emergency operations plan at your child’s school or childcare facility. During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, local public health officials may recommend temporary school dismissals to help slow the spread of illness. School authorities also may decide to dismiss a school if too many students or staff are absent. Understand the plan for continuing education and social services (such as student meal programs) during school dismissals. If your child attends a college or university, encourage them to learn about the school’s plan for a COVID-19 outbreak.

Plan for potential changes at your workplace

Learn about your employer’s emergency operations plan. Discuss sick-leave policies and telework options for workers who are sick or who need to stay home to care for sick household members. Learn how businesses and employers can plan for and respond to COVID-19.

Locations with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

Global Map

As of 11:00 a.m. ET March 5, 2020

Locations with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, by WHO Region

Africa

  • Algeria
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal

Americas

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Guadalupe
  • Mexico
  • United States

Eastern Mediterranean

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates

Europe

  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

South-East Asia

  • India
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand

Western Pacific

  • Australia
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Republic of Korea
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
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