COVID-19 spreads between people, usually when a sick person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can enter your body through the mucous membranes (wet parts) of your face – your eyes, nose and mouth – which provide a direct pathway to your throat and lungs. The good news is that it can’t get in through other parts of your body like your skin or your hair, but you might be surprised just how easily it can get to the mucous membranes of your face.
First of all, the droplets from someone’s cough or sneeze might fall directly into your eyes, nose or mouth if you’re close enough to the infected person, letting the virus enter your system straight away. Or, the droplets might fall onto a surface where you then put your hands.
If you don’t wash your hands, you could move the virus into your eyes, nose or mouth and become infected. The infected person might also get the droplets on their hands if they cough or sneeze into them, and then place them on a surface, where you pick them up. Direct membrane-to-membrane contact can also spread the virus. This could happen by kissing. The virus can also be spread by sharing items that go in your mouth, eyes or nose, like cutlery, cups, straws, water bottles or cosmetics.
Can COVID-19 spread through the air?
So far, studies show that people are mainly catching COVID-19 through these droplets, rather than the virus hanging out in the air. This is good news, because it means if an infected person is in a room, breathes for a while, then leaves the room, the virus isn’t lurking in the air waiting for the next person to come in. If with further study we find out this information has changed, we’ll let you know.