Six ways to protect yourself and those around you

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08 Dec 2021

Six ways to protect yourself and those around you during the holiday season

8 December 2021


With the holiday season fast approaching, it is useful to remind ourselves of 6 ways we can keep ourselves and the people around us safe from COVID-19. 

Nearly 2 years into the coronavirus pandemic, cases are surging in some parts of the world and more transmissible variants are becoming dominant. It is therefore essential to be vaccinated as soon as it is your turn and to continue the protective measures that also help to prevent transmission. This is especially important if you plan to get together with family and friends or travel over the holidays. Learn more about protective measures

Vaccination in combination with the appropriate protective measures is key to limiting the virus’s spread and reducing its ability to mutate into more dangerous variants. 

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Lunar New Year or other special events, this holiday season, let’s #Doitall! 

1. Get vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn 

Our advice: Get vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn.

Why it works: Approved COVID-19 vaccines provide a high degree of protection against serious illness or death from the disease (but they do not fully prevent transmission).

WHO believes that everyone, everywhere should have access as quickly as possible to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, starting with those at higher risk of infection including frontline health and care workers and those at highest risk of serious disease or death. These include people aged over 60 years, pregnant women, and people with underlying conditions like high blood pressure, lung and heart disease, diabetes, obesity or cancer.

The more fully vaccinated people there are, the better protected we all are, but we must also continue the other 5 protective measures. Learn more about vaccination.


2. Wear a mask

Our advice: Wear a properly fitted mask when physical distancing is not possible and when ventilation is poor, particularly indoors.

Why it works: Masks help stop people from spreading the virus or being infected when droplets containing the virus are inhaled or come directly into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. Learn more about masks

To make masks as effective as possible:

  • Clean your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off, and after you touch it at any time.
  • Make sure it covers your nose, mouth and chin. 
  • When you take off a mask, store it in a clean bag. Wash fabric masks daily and dispose of used medical masks in a closed bin.
  • Don’t use masks with valves.


3. Keep physical distancing

Our advice: Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from other people, even if they don’t appear to be sick. 

Why it works: COVID-19 is caused by the virus called SARS-CoV-2, which can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. 

Current evidence suggests the virus is or more likely to be inhaled or come directly into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth when people are in close contact with each other, typically within 1 metre. 

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, the New Year or some other special event this holiday season, smaller gatherings in spaces that allow you to keep physical distancing are safer. Depending on the epidemiological situation in your community, the safest choice may be to celebrate only with those in your household. 


4. Cover coughs and sneezes

Our advice: Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately in a closed bin and wash your hands.

Why it works: By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect yourself and the people around you from COVID-19. 

Bonus: Good respiratory hygiene also protects you from other respiratory viruses that cause colds and flu. 


5. Keep hands clean 

Our advice: Clean your hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub. 

Why it works: You may pick up a virus by touching surfaces that have been contaminated, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth with those hands. Cleaning your hands frequently eliminates germs that may be on your hands, including viruses.

Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently, especially those which are regularly touched, such as door handles, taps and phone screens.

Bonus: Good hand hygiene helps prevent many diseases. 


6. Meet outside or increase ventilation 

Our advice: Go outside or open windows when possible. 

Why it works: COVID-19 is more easily transmitted in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces and where people spend long periods of time together. Settings with increased risk of outbreaks include restaurants, choir practices, fitness classes, karaoke bars and nightclubs, offices and places of worship. Learn more about ventilation.

To make your environment as safe as possible this holiday season:

  • Avoid the 3Cs: spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact.
  • Meet people outside. Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor ones, particularly if indoor spaces are small and lack ventilation.
  • If you can’t avoid crowded or indoor settings:
    • Open windows to increase the amount of natural ventilation.
    • Limit time spent in indoor settings.
    • Wear a mask.
    • Keep a physical distance. 

Finally, know the symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home if you are sick. 

While COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, the most common symptoms are fever, dry cough and fatigue. Other symptoms that are less common include loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes), sore throat, headache, muscle or joint pain, skin rash, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea, chills and dizziness. Learn more about symptoms.