Frequently asked questions about COVID-19

Below are a list of FAQs on the COVID-19 virus.

Source: World Health Organization, ‘Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)’, 9 March 2020, available and regularly updated at: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses


What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.


Will all people infected face the same symptoms?

Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.


Who is most at risk of developing serious illness?

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.


How does COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.


Can COVID-19 be transmitted by air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.


Can COVID-19 be caught from someone who has no symptoms?

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.


Can I catch COVID-19 from faeces of someone with the disease?

The risk of catching COVID-19 from the faeces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in faeces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak.


What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of the disease?

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water. Why? To kill viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses, then transfer to your face and enter your body.

Make sure you, and the people around you, cover the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread virus. 

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of the local health authority. Why? National and local authorities should have the most up to date information on the situation in your area.

As part of your everyday prevention actions, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. For example: Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones or cellphones, keyboards, television remote controls, toilets, faucets, sinks:

Step 1: Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty.

Step 2: Then, use a bleach solution, an alcohol solution or a household disinfectant:

    • To make a bleach solution, mix: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water OR 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
    • Alcohol solutions should have at least 70% alcohol.
    • Household cleaners and disinfectants: follow the manufacturer instructions.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html.


Should I worry about COVID-19?

Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 6 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.

This concern should help us adopt protective measures for ourselves, our loved ones and the communities where we live. The main and most important measure is regular and complete hygiene of the hands and respiratory tract. Second, it is important to stay informed and follow the advice of local health authorities, such as those related to travel, commuting and events where large numbers of people may be concentrated.


Do Antibiotics prevent or treat COVID-19?

No.


Are there any medicines or therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19?

While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease.


Is there a vaccine?

No, not yet.


Should I wear a mask?

Only those ill with COVID-19 are recommended to wear a mask.


How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. Preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus suggests it may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.


OTHER FACTS ABOUT COVID-19

  • COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates.

  • Cold weather and snow cannot kill COVID-19.

  • Taking a hot bath does not prevent COVID-19.

  • COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting COVID-19 cases.

  • COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites.

  • Hand dryers are not effective in killing COVID-19.

  • Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. 

  • Spraying alcohol or chlorine over your body can be harmful to you.

  • Garlic is a healthy food, however, there is no evidence that eating garlic will protect you from COVID-19.

  • Swallowing or gargling with bleach, taking acetic acid or steroids, or using essential oils, saltwater, ethanol or other substances will not protect you from getting COVID-19 and can be harmful.

  • COVID-19 can make anyone sick, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

  • Someone who has completed quarantine does not pose a risk of infection to other people.

  • Smoking is not effective against COVID-19 and can be harmful.

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