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Article Type: Blog

Help Stop the Spread of Germs When Coughing or Sneezing


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Properly covering your coughs and sneezes is very important to reduce spreading germs when you’re ill. While sneezing and coughing may not always be linked to a serious illness, they are symptoms of the flu and COVID-19, so to protect others around you, practice these steps towards proper coughing and sneezing etiquette.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), serious respiratory illnesses like the flu, RSV, whooping cough and SARS are spread by coughing, sneezing and unclean hands — whether by touching your face after touching contaminated objects or touching objects after contaminating your hands. To reduce the germs being spread, the CDC recommends:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • If you find yourself without a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve rather than your hands
  • Move away from people if you feel a cough or sneeze coming on
  • Put your used tissue in a waste basket

After coughing or sneezing, wash your hands immediately with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol. Viruses that cause illnesses can live on your hands, so regular hand-washing can make a big impact in preventing germ spreading.

How Coronavirus Spreads

According to the CDC, it’s thought that coronavirus spreads mainly through person-to-person contact, predominately when an infected person is showing the most symptoms, but it’s possible that the virus could be spread before someone infected has symptoms.

Coronavirus moves from person-to-person through respiratory droplets that enter the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Once airborne, these droplets then enter other people within up to six feet of each other via their mouth or nose. This is why proper coughing and sneezing etiquette is especially important now as we try to contain coronavirus.

Tips to Protect Others

While practicing safe sneezing and coughing etiquette, if you’re ill you can also help protect others with the following tips:

  • Avoid hugging, kissing or shaking hands
  • Disinfect common surfaces, such as doorknobs, television remotes and countertops
  • Stay at home

More Information

To stay up to date with the latest coverage on coronavirus, including how to best protect yourself and your family, visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub.


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