How COVID-19 is spread

The most common way you can get COVID-19 (coronavirus) is by coming into close contact with someone who has the virus. You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms.

Close contact

COVID-19 is mainly spread through close contact and droplets that come from your nose and mouth. For example, from someone who is talking loud, singing, shouting, coughing or sneezing.

This happens when people are within 1 to 2 metres of each other.

That's why keeping a 2 metre distance from other people is an important way of reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Airborne spread

Airborne transmission is the spread of a virus in very tiny water particles, known as aerosols. This can happen over a longer distance than droplets, such as across a room.

COVID-19 can spread easily in crowded or poorly ventilated areas.

To protect against airborne transmission, keep indoor spaces aired out (ventilated) by opening windows and doors when possible. This reduces the risk of infected air building up in a room, corridor or stairwell.

It's much safer to meet people outdoors than indoors, even if you keep more than 2 metres apart indoors.

Avoid crowded or stuffy places as much as possible. Leave a location if it becomes crowded.

Infected surfaces

You can also get the virus from infected surfaces. For example, when someone who has the virus sneezes or coughs, droplets with the virus can fall onto surfaces around them.

If you touch that surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you could become infected too.

Getting COVID-19 from surfaces is not as common as getting it through close contact with someone who has the virus. But it's still important to wash your hands properly and often.

Using common household disinfectants will kill the virus on surfaces.

How to protect yourself and others

Wearing a face covering will protect you and others. But you should still do the important things needed to prevent the spread of the virus.

These include:

How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19

Pets and COVID-19

There is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs can spread COVID-19 to humans.

It is possible for COVID-19 to spread from humans to animals in some situations. This is not common but if you have COVID-19, you should keep away from your pet while you are self-isolating, if possible.

Always clean your hands often when in contact with pets. This can prevent the spread of many diseases or viruses.

Read more about COVID-19 and animals on the Department of Agriculture's website

Last updated: 15 April 2021 at 9.55am