Why Are We Still Catching Colds in Lockdown?

We are being so vigilant with hand washing. We are hand sanitising like crazy. We are wearing masks. We are home schooling our children, working from home and keeping our children home from day care.

So why are we still catching colds?

There are a couple of ways that this is happening.

Firstly, many infections are airborne so we can pick them up whenever we leave our house, for exercise, grocery shopping, or to visit a friend for a compassionate reason. Many viruses that are airborne such as the common cold virus can survive for many hours on different surfaces.

Secondly, all humans carry germs on their skin. Most of the time these cause us no problems at all. However, occasionally If we have a break in our skin such as if a child has picked their nose and has a little scratch it provides a way for a germ to enter our body and we can get sick.

Germs can also enter our body via our eyes. This can occur if you touch a surface in the supermarket that someone who is unwell has touched and then rub our eyes or when you push your child on a swing in the playground and then rub your face. It is one of the reasons medical professionals are always encouraging people not to touch their faces.

A confusing factor is the incubation period of a virus. Some infections are brewing in our bodies for many days before we actually develop any signs or symptoms and during this time, we can infect others around us. This means that you might go for a walk with someone who seems completely well and then suddenly ten days later you develop a cold and you cannot figure out where it came from.

Don’t get me wrong, wearing a mask, washing your hands, using hand sanitiser and physical distancing all significantly reduce your risk of catching and spreading infections especially COVID-19, and is something we applaud and encourage. However, given the number of viruses, it is likely that you will come into contact with a person with a viral infection.

Given the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community at the moment, we strongly recommend that if you do develop any cold and flu like symptoms, you should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as you can and isolate until you receive your results.


1. Natasha Yates. The Conversation, How did I catch a cold in lockdown? July 22 2021 https://theconversation.com/how-did-i-catch-a-cold-in-lockdown-164861 (7/09/21)

2. Elizabeth Hanes. Public Health; WebMD Blogs, ‘How did I get sick in lockdown?’ February 12 2021 https://blogs.webmd.com/public-health/20210212/how-did-i-get-sick-in-lockdown (7/09/21)

3. Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials: ‘Why am I still getting sick in Isolation?’ January 26 2021 <https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-am-i-still-getting-sick-in-isolation/> (7/09/21)