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How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find out how coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread and what you can do to reduce your risk of catching and spreading it.

While there are cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK, there is a risk you can catch it or pass it on. You could still catch or spread it even if you're fully vaccinated or have had the virus before.

How COVID-19 is spread

COVID-19 is spread through close contact with people who have the virus. People with the virus can spread it even if they do not have symptoms.

When someone with the virus breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release small droplets containing the virus.

You can catch COVID-19 if you breathe in these droplets or touch surfaces covered with droplets.


The risk of catching COVID-19 is highest indoors and in crowded places.


  • get vaccinated against COVID-19 – everyone aged 12 and over can book vaccination appointments now

  • meet people outside if possible

  • open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside

  • limit the number of people you meet and avoid crowded places

  • wear a face covering in shops, on public transport and when it's hard to stay away from other people (particularly indoors or in crowded places)

  • wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day


  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean


If you're at high risk from COVID-19

There is some extra advice for people at high risk from COVID-19.

Stay at home and get a test as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of COVID-19:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

You need a test that is sent to a lab, called a PCR test.


More advice about staying safe

GOV.UK: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19

Open all pages about Coronavirus (COVID-19)