What you can do

Last Updated: 24 Nov 2021 9:59am

Prevent the spread

Personal hygiene is an important protection against COVID-19 and all respiratory illnesses. You can help slow the spread of illness by:

  • washing your hands often with soap and warm, running water (or alcohol-base hand rub), especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • using a tissue (or flexed elbow if a tissue is not readily available) to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, then putting the tissue in the rubbish
  • keeping two large steps from others if you can, when you are out in public
  • contacting your GP or the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to be tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms of fever, runny nose, cough, sore or itchy throat, or shortness of breath
  • wearing a face mask if you are unwell with COVID-19 symptoms and need to be around other people (for example, to access arranged medical care).

Hand hygiene

Practising good hand hygiene is your best defence.

How to wash

  • Use soap and warm, running water if you can.
  • Make sure the soap and water get on your whole hand – palms, backs of hands, thumbs, fingertips, wrists and the webbing between your fingers.
  • Rub your hands for 15–20 seconds, or for as long as it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song slowly.
  • Rinse and dry well.

When to wash

  • After coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose
  • Before touching your face, especially your mouth, lips, nose, eyes
  • Before eating, drinking, preparing food/drinks
  • After caring for someone who is unwell
  • After going to the toilet
  • After handling money, especially if you’re eating or handling food.

Hand sanitiser

If the product is labelled and/or promoted as providing a therapeutic benefit (claims that it kills specific organisms or is to be used in clinics or hospitals) then it needs to be Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or made to an approved recipe under the TGA exemption.

A more detailed explanation can be found on the TGA website.

Watch out for inappropriate claims

The TGA enforces restrictions on the types of claims that are allowed to be made on the labels and in promotional material for hand sanitisers that it regulates. For example, the label or an advertisement for hand sanitiser cannot claim to help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus or prevent COVID-19 unless it has been approved for those claims.

If a hand sanitiser claims to be "suitable for use in medical and health services", it must either be regulated by the TGA, or it must meet specified formulation, manufacturing, labelling and advertising requirements. Hand sanitisers that are regulated by the TGA will have an AUST R number included on the label.

If a hand sanitiser claims to kill specific organisms (eg E.coli or viruses), it is required to be regulated by the TGA and assessed for safety, quality and effectiveness. If a hand sanitiser makes these claims and it does not have an AUST R number on the label, it is likely to be a non-compliant product that has not been assessed by the TGA.

General household and workplace cleaning

Cleaning is an important way to slow the spread of viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.

For frequently touched surfaces like door handles, tabletops, desks, light switches, railings, shared keyboards and mice, taps and handles:

  • Clean these surfaces frequently, making sure you remove any visible dirt and organic matter so that the disinfectant can work well.
  • Regularly wipe the surface using your normal household or workplace detergent/disinfectant, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.

Surfaces that are less often touched:

  • Clean these surfaces at least when they start to look dusty or dirty and immediately after any spillage or contamination.
  • Use your normal household or workplace detergent, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.
  • Damp mopping is better than dry.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing means increasing physical space between you and other people. It is important to exercise physical distancing because COVID-19 is most likely to spread by close contact with an infected person, or by contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

For more information see the Guide to physical distancing.

People at higher risk

Some people who may be at higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19 are encouraged to monitor public health advice, talk with their GP and take extra precautions to protect their health. For more information see Higher risk Tasmanians.