About coronavirus

How coronavirus spreads

How coronavirus spreads

Coronavirus is a new illness and while we don’t know exactly how it spreads from person to person, it is believed to be highly infectious – it spreads very easily.

It is thought to spread in a similar way to the common cold or flu, through droplets containing the virus when we cough or sneeze. The virus can be spread from person to person when:

  1. An infected person gets the virus on their hands (usually by coughing, sneezing or wiping their nose) and then touches something that someone else then touches such as a door handle.
  2. Someone gets close to someone (within less than 1-2 metres) who is infected.

Once the virus is on our hands the most common way it is spread is through touching your face – in particular your mouth, nose and eyes. The average incubation period (the time between coming into contact with the virus and experiencing symptoms is thought to be around 5 days, but could be anything between 1 and 14 days.

It is very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

We can all play our part to limit the spread:


  • wash your hands with soap and water – often – do this for at least 20 seconds – are bored of signing Happy Birthday twice? Try Wash your lyrics to create posters with different songs or search for a playlist on your favourite music streaming service
  • always wash your hands when you get home if you have been outside
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • regularly wipe down surfaces with disinfectant or antiseptic wipes
  • stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people, if you need to go outside
  • use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services


  • touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • have visitors to your home, including friends and family

Is there a cure?
This is a completely new virus and for the moment, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

Some clinical trials are being evaluated and may start soon.