Avoiding COVID-19 Coronavirus – Tips for cancer patients

With two confirmed cases in Ireland as of today, the COVID-19 Coronavirus is the talk of the nation at the moment. As a cancer patient going through chemo, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ll be doing my best to avoid it. Here are my top tips.

By Happy Magazine Editor, Holly Kennedy.

1. Make regular and thorough hand washing a fresh priority for yourself and your family

    • Make sure to wash your hands after any physical contact with other people,
    • Every time before making/eating food,
    • As soon as you return home from being out,
    • After every toilet/bathroom use, including in your own home, and,
    • Get all of your family members/those who live with you to do the same.

2. Start a new habit of avoiding touching your face

The quickest way we spread germs is from touching contaminated hands to our faces – to bite a nail/scratch our nose/wipe our mouth/eye, etc. Make a conscious effort to stop touching your face and you’ll quickly realise just how often you do it – but also how easy it is to train your brain to stop.

3. Clean your hands on the go too

Hand washing is our biggest defence against spreading germs but we’re not always near a sink to do so. Keep a simple hygiene kit of a packet of baby wipes, a hand sanitiser like the one above from Dr Bronner’s (still in stock here) and some tissues in your handbag/car for cleaning your hands while you’re out and about. 

4. Avoid crowded venues where possible

Crowded venues are riskier for all contagious illnesses for obvious reasons, COVID-19 Coronavirus will likely become another in the mix to try avoid. Depending on your typical lifestyle, avoiding crowded venues may or may not be easy for you. I’m generally avoiding public transport, venues like large shopping centres and kids play centres on weekends when they are busiest and social nights/gigs/events at the moment – all quite easy for me for now as I drive and I’m really not up for much on my chemo weeks anyway.

5. Avoid air travel where possible

If you don’t have to travel, don’t! Eliminate the risk of picking up something in an airport or on a plane by simply not travelling if you don’t need to. If you must, I would suggest wearing a mask at all times on the plane and taking extra care with handwashing and food hygiene throughout your trip.

6. Inform others of your immune system vulnerability

Ask family/friends not to visit you if they are unwell or have a family member unwell. Ensure they are aware that you are particularly susceptible to infection and kindly request them not to visit if they are displaying any symptoms of illness. Provide gentle reminders as time goes on as most will also (unintentionally) forget!

7. Limit the spread of germs in your home

Stick a little note to your front door asking all visitors to your home to wash their hands when they come in – they will see it while they wait for you to open the door, saving you the trouble of asking – and limiting the spread of germs in your home.

8. Wear a mask in high risk areas

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth while attending your GP’s office or hospital for appointments. Ask for one as soon as you arrive and ensure you tie it on properly – usually over your ears and under your chin, shaping the band to your nose. Make a conscious effort not to touch any surfaces whilst there and wash your hands well as soon as you get home.

9. Be cautious about contact with those that have travelled recently

Avoid contact with people who have travelled to Ireland in the past 14 days from areas where the virus is in circulation (eg., northern Italy).

And last but by no means least,

10. Make ‘staying healthy and well’ a top priority for yourself and work at it every day

Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole foods, drink plenty of clean, filtered water and get out for some light exercise and fresh air every day that you can. Really take care of yourself, body, mind and spirit, as they are all equally important in our wellness.

I hope these tips have given you some practical ideas on how to minimise your risk of contracting the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Do you have any more tips not covered here? Please feel free to share them below.

For more information on the COVID-19 Coronavirus, please visit the Health Protection Surveillance Centre website here.


  1. 4 March, 2020 / 8:05 pm

    Thank your for these sensible points, which apply to all esp with a compromised immune system. As someone affected by cancer I am particularly interested in the pros / cons of face masks. At present we in the UK are being discouraged by Government medical advisers to wear masks unless we have the virus. That potentially stigmatises mask wearing. Secondly, if you have a pre-existing health condition and working, then coronavirus self care can be challenging. We need to think about that.

  2. 5 March, 2020 / 7:22 am

    Great one, Holly! I have read the riot act to all and sundry here.
    Hope you are well.
    Lots of love.

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