COVID-19: Protect yourself and others

How can we protect ourselves and others against coronavirus infection? Find out below.

What should you do if you develop cold symptoms?

If you develop the symptoms of a cold, try to avoid contact with others – particularly people at especially high risk – and stay at home as much as you can. If this is not possible, wear a facemask when you are with other people, and keep your distance from them. The coronavirus and other pathogens such as the flu virus or the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are all transmitted in similar ways, and can prompt similar symptoms.

This also means that if you are at especially high risk, you should contact your doctor or another medical specialist if you develop any cold symptoms, so that if you have contracted COVID-19, appropriate treatment can be swiftly considered. If you go to work, please also discuss your work activities with your employer, along with any protection measures and/or medical certificate that may be required.

Basic principles

Do you want to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, flu and colds? By taking the following actions – individually or in combination – you can reduce the risk of an infection with these viruses and also protect others. Which of these actions make the most sense will depend greatly on where you may be (e.g. on public transport or at work). The risk of getting infected with the coronavirus or catching flu or a cold is greatest in crowded indoor locations. So in such surroundings, a combination of wearing a facemask and regular ventilation (if possible) may be the best approach.


Get vaccinated

An autumn/winter COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for persons at especially high risk. Such vaccination can help protect you from developing a severe case of COVID-19. You’ll find more information on this on the Vaccination page.

Wear a facemask

You can continue to wear a facemask if you wish. As the coronavirus is transmitted via droplets and aerosols, facemasks can protect you and others from infection. And if you develop symptoms of possible infection, wearing a facemask can be particularly useful in helping to ensure that you do not pass any viruses on.

Abstand halten

Keep your distance

The risk of infection is increased when you are in close contact with other people. This is because when they sneeze or cough, and even when they just speak or breathe more heavily, people release more droplets and aerosols into their immediate vicinity. So by keeping your distance from others, you can reduce your risk of infection.

Ventilate several times a day

Ventilating reduces the concentrations of coronaviruses, other pathogens and other contaminants in indoor spaces and thus the risk of transmission. So any indoor areas where several people congregate should be regularly well ventilated. Temperature permitting, it is also a good idea to leave windows open for extended periods.

Tip: The risk of virus infection can also be reduced by limiting contacts indoors (e.g. the number of people present).

In Taschentuch oder Armbeuge husten und niesen

Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your arm

Viruses can be spread by blowing your nose, sneezing, spitting or coughing. So if you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue whenever you can. Use a paper tissue for this, use it only once and then dispose of it immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, you should cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm. Then wash or sanitise your hands.

Hände waschen

Wash or sanitise your hands thoroughly

Wash your hands regularly or disinfect them with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This will also help you protect yourself and others from infection by any of a range of further pathogens (such as the flu virus) which can trigger a cold or a cough.

You should wash your hands whenever you

  • come home
  • have touched objects or surfaces that have also been touched frequently by other people
  • have blown your nose, coughed or sneezed
  • are about to prepare food or eat.

Please note:
The temperature of the water you use to wash your hands has no influence on reducing the number of viruses on the skin. So the water can be cold or lukewarm. What is more important is how and for how long you wash your hands: you should thoroughly soap all areas of your hands (including thumbs, spaces between fingers, backs of hands and fingertips) for at least 30 seconds.

Last modification 20.10.2023

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Infoline Coronavirus
Tel. +41 58 463 00 00

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