Droplet Precautions

What is it?

Droplet transmission can occur when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks allowing droplets to be transferred to others. Droplets are infectious particles larger than 5 microns in size. Respiratory droplets transmit infection when they travel directly from the respiratory tract of the infected person to susceptible mucosal surfaces (nasal, conjunctivae, or oral) of another person, generally over short distances. 

The force of expulsion and gravity limits the droplet distribution and is usually at least 1 metre. However, droplets can also be transmitted indirectly to mucosal surfaces, e.g., via hands.

Examples of infections that can be transmitted through droplets are


Influenza virus


Droplet Precautions

Droplet precautions must be used if there is a risk of infectious microorganisms being transmitted by droplets generated by coughing, sneezing, or talking (e.g., patients with pertussis) or vomiting.

In addition to standard precautions, including hand hygiene, droplet precautions include

Appropriate immunisation of healthcare workers

Healthcare workers use fluid-repellent surgical masks or filtering respirators as appropriate or as directed by health departments during outbreaks

Requiring all residents to wear surgical masks covering the nose and mouth

Isolating residents with suspected infectious diseases as appropriate and feasible

Requiring residents to observe respiratory hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette by displaying signs and providing tissues, alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser, and a waste bin within reach

Communicating the resident's infectious status to other employees enables appropriate transmission-based precautions to be maintained