COVID-19 -How you can reduce the risk of infection

Following the extensive worldwide transmission of Coronavirus COVID-19, it has now reached the UK posing a significant threat to national public health.

Updated: Tuesday 14 June 2022

covid 19 risk reduction

To date, COVID-19 has infected over 400,000 people across 94 countries and is responsible for over 17,000 fatalities (mortality rate 4.25%). Following the extensive worldwide transmission of coronavirus COVID-19, it has now reached the UK posing a significant threat to national public health.

Current understandings of COVID-19 since the initial outbreak

It’s important not to panic about COVID-19 despite the mass media coverage and speculation. It is also important to make sure you understand how the outbreak of COVID-19 may affect you and what you can do to minimise the risk of catching the virus.


Common symptoms consist of[1]:

  • A high temperature
  • A Cough - A new, continuous cough that lasts for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • Shortness of breath

Whilst these symptoms are common in the diagnosis of COVID-19, they are also common in many other illnesses (such as the Flu and colds). Therefore, it is important to seek immediate professional advice if you do experience these symptoms to get a definitive diagnosis. It is best to do this by visiting the 111 coronavirus service before going to your GP, local pharmacist or hospital to help protect others.


COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person through cough droplets, both directly through inhaling cough droplets or from object to hand to face transmission (following the touching of eyes, mouth or nose)[2]. However, due to the novel nature of COVID-19, there may be other means of transmission yet to be confirmed by scientists. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain an all-round high standard of hygiene.

Most at risk demographics to serious illness

Older individuals and those with pre-existing underlying health conditions appear to be most at risk (eg. diabetes, respiratory diseases, heart disease) of developing serious health complications[3].

How can you reduce the risk of catching COVID-19?

Here are some of the most highly recommended actions to take[4]:

  • Regularly wash hands - Wash for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap
  • Use hand sanitiser regularly if you have no access to soap and water
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tisue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing - Avoid using your hands as the virus can be transferred on touced surfaces
  • Dispose of tissues in a bin and wash hands
  • Try to avoid close contact and proximity with those that appear unwell, a distance of at least two metres is advised

How has the UK responded to the arrival of COVID-19?

The phased response outlined by GOV.UK[5] details how the UK is currently responding to and planning on tackling the outbreak. The UK is now in the delay phase as more cases arise. Research remains ongoing in accordance with a global effort to identify a vaccine that can be swiftly implemented.

Contain Phase

The contain phase is the initial phase, orientated around identifying individuals that could be carriers of the virus; those returning from high risk locations abroad are identified, contacted and tested. Furthermore, patients experiencing potential COVID-19 symptoms are isolated and tested for possible diagnosis. Following COVID-19 diagnosis, immediate isolation of those infected is crucial in addition to attempting to identify those that may have come in contact with the recently diagnosed patient. Furthermore, the NHS is equipped and prepared to ensure COVID-19 patients are informed, isolated and treated.

Delay Phase

The delay phase comes next and is similar to the contain phase. However, the delay phase involves the implementation of measures to reduce the rate of emerging cases. Campaigns designed to inform the public about taking individual actions are implemented as a reminder to wash hands, cover your face when you cough or sneeze and not to touch your face if it can be avoided. Furthermore, some measures to minimise the opportunity for transmission such as advising against large gatherings may be considered, possibly at the expense of social and economic cost and disruption.

The delay phase also enables more time for the research phase, which is essential for the testing of medication and vaccines.

Research Phase

The research phase is fundamental to the overall strategy, it involves the ongoing testing and development of a vaccine in addition to other medical equipment important in tackling COVID-19. Furthermore, co-ordinated research enabled the rapid development and supply of COVID-19 testing kits, which continue to play a crucial role in both the contain and delay phases.

This phase operates through the collaboration of experts and leading health institutions to guide research development and solution implementation. This is particularly important with COVID-19, as future seasonal waves of virus activity may be a possibility.

Mitigation Phase

This phase follows more significant measures to tackle the outbreak. Measures are put in place to prioritise public services most integral to our infrastructure and health, this is necessary to minimise disruption. Furthemore, those most at risk of serious health complications will be a priority for healthcare and treatment.

This phase is orientated around advising people, businesses and communities how to best operate to mitigate issues that may arise given the increased strain and pressure placed on the UK.

How might the COVID-19 outbreak affect Pharmica?

We have been planning well in advance to ensure minimal disruption to business as usual. Whilst we are confident that medicine supply and ordering won’t be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, we cannot guarantee this. Due to the uncertainty posed by the outbreak and accompanying decision making by the Government, we advise to place orders in advance to avoid any unforeseen disruptions. We will continue to provide updates as soon as information becomes available to us to keep you informed throughout the outbreak.


Current as of: Tuesday 24th March 2020

Toby Watson

Written by: Toby Watson

Pharmica Medical Writer

Toby (BSc) is an experienced medical writer, producing educational articles on many areas of health including sexual health, fitness, nutrition and mental health.

He particularly enjoys debunking misconceptions around heath conditions and their treatments, researching each topic in detail and writing easily-accessible content.

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Face Masks Vs Flu
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