Coronavirus: Five less obvious things you can do to reduce risk of catching COVID-19

COVID-19 has tested humanity’s resolve in a way that is reminiscent of wartime. The virus has so far killed more than 100,000 people, destabilised the global economy and driven almost four billion people into lockdown. If this doesn’t stretch credulity enough, it has done it in the space of four months.


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In the face of this threat, it is easy to feel utterly helpless, especially as the death toll continues to rise and no vaccine is currently available.

There are actions you can take to reduce your risk of catching and spreading the virus, however.

Regularly washing your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds has become a popular slogan but there are a number tips you may not be aware of.

According to Dr Thomas Maggs, Paediatric Registrar and General Manager at Caidr, here are five less obvious tips:

Plan your weekly meals 

“Planning your weekly meals can significantly reduce the number of times you have to buy groceries each week,” said Dr Maggs.

He explained: “For the majority of people visiting shops is when they are most likely to be in close quarters with others, and thus most likely to contract the virus. The fewer times you are near people, the safer you and the rest of society are at this time.”

Time your exercise or grocery shops outside of usual times

According to Dr Maggs, if you have the flexibility, visiting parks or food shops in the mornings or later in the day can make social distancing easier for you and everyone around you.

“Not everyone has this flexibility with their time, so if you do, taking this step could be your bit to help society,” he said.

Only touch items that you are going to buy when shopping

“Try as much as possible to only handle items that you are planning on buying on your food shop,” advised Dr Maggs.

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As he explained, this can reduce the chance of you coming in contact with the virus, and reduce the chance of you spreading it to others.

Clean and disinfect regularly used surfaces

As Dr Maggs pointed out, self-isolating may shield you against the outside world, but there are parts of your house that interact with the outside world.

What does he advise? “Be sure to clean door handles that you use to enter your house, and be conscious that if you are living in flats or shared accommodation, multiple families will have used handles and rails in communal entrances.”

Utilise technology

“Keep an eye out for upcoming technologies that will help people stay safe during this pandemic, particularly as the lockdown begins to ease,” said Dr Maggs.


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Geolocation apps such as Caidr allow users to highlight if they are at high-risk anonymously, and make them aware if they come within close contact of somebody with symptoms, he said.

What are the main warning signs of COVID-19?

According to the NHS, the main symptoms are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

Other symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Aches and pains
  • Sore throat

Diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.

What should I do if I recognise symptoms?

According to the World Health Organization: “People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.”

UK health advice says to self-isolate for seven days if you show mild symptoms.

This social distancing policy is called self-isolation.

If you are self-isolating, you must:

  • Not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • Not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home

“You can use your garden, if you have one. Any exercise should be taken at home,” advises the NHS.

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