Face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)
Coronavirus spreads between people in tiny droplets when someone with the virus talks, sneezes or coughs. It can stay in the air and on surfaces for a short time.
The best way to protect yourself and stop it from spreading is to:
wash your hands regularly with soap and water use a face covering avoid touching your face follow social distancing guidelines avoid crowded places
Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Bin the tissue and wash your hands as soon as you can, for example with hand sanitiser.
You could also wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like a face mask. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that you should not use PPE instead of other safety measures.
Myths about coronavirus (World Health Organisation, WHO) How face masks stop coronavirus spreading
You can wear a face mask or covering like a scarf or bandana over your nose, mouth and chin. This does not protect you, but people around you.
It takes an average of 5 to 6 days for symptoms to show after you’re infected. During this time, you may not know you have coronavirus.
Wearing a face mask or covering when you’re with people or in public can stop it spreading when you talk, sneeze or cough.
If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss of taste or smell, stay at home and follow the latest government guidance.
Coronavirus guidance (GOV.UK) Medical face masks
Medical or surgical face masks are thinner and can only be used once. Wear this type of mask if you:
are a health worker have coronavirus symptoms look after someone with confirmed or suspected coronavirus
Or if you cannot social distance and are:
over 60 have other health conditions that make you medically vulnerable
You can buy disposable medical face masks at pharmacies including:
How to wear a medical face mask safely (WHO video on YouTube) PPE for carers and PAs
If you have a carer or personal assistant (PA), their employer or agency should carry out a risk assessment or create a plan to work safely with you during coronavirus. This should include PPE.
If they have not told you, ask your carer or PA. You can also contact the agency they work for or social services.
If you employ a carer or PA directly or use direct payments, it may be your responsibility to create a plan with them. Ask your local authority for advice.
Find your local authority (GOV.UK) Creating an emergency care plan (Carers UK) Providing and paying for PPE
If an agency employs your carer or they’re self-employed, they must provide PPE themselves. You only need to provide PPE if your contract says that you have to.
If you employ your own carer or use direct payments, you must supply them with the PPE they need. Contact your local authority or social services if you cannot find PPE or pay for it from your personal budget.
For personal care, your carer or PA should wear:
disposable gloves a plastic apron a surgical mask possibly a face shield or eye protection Infection prevention (GOV.UK)
You could also:
open windows before they arrive limit the places they go in your home ask them to clean any surfaces they have touched or clean them yourself after they leave How to keep safe if you use a carer or PA (Disability Horizons)
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