Stop the spread of common colds


  • There are some very simple things you can do to avoid catching a cold or spreading the infection to others if you have a cold.
  • Stay at home if you are unwell.
  • Cover your mouth and nose, or use a tissue, when sneezing or coughing.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water.

What you can do

If you have a cold, stay at home until you feel better. This helps you to get over the infection faster, and will also mean that you won't come into contact with others and spread your infection.

When you go back to work, or your child goes back to childcare, preschool or school, after a cold, help stop the spread of the virus, by:

  • washing your hands regularly with soap and running water, particularly before preparing and eating food and after blowing your nose
  • covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing. You can avoid contaminating your hands by sneezing or coughing into your elbow or using a tissue. Dispose of all used tissues after use.
  • keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth
  • avoiding sharing cups, glasses and cutlery when eating or drinking
  • keeping your household surfaces clean
  • avoiding contact with people who have a cold or flu.

See your doctor if your symptoms are not getting better or if they become worse.

Common cold graphic

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Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough

The viruses that cause colds can spread from person to person via drops of fluid from the throat and nose of someone who is infected.

When the person coughs, sneezes, laughs or talks, infected droplets become airborne and may be breathed in by others.

Droplets can also be passed from person to person on contaminated objects, such as hands or toys.

If you need to sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cough into your elbow.

If you use your hands when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands afterwards This is to wash infected droplets off your hands so they can't be transferred to a surface that others may touch, such as a door knob or handrail.

If you need to blow your nose, use a tissue and throw it away in a bin as soon as you have finished with it.

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