Awareness about the highly contagious coronavirus is extremely important in this crucial time. There are a number of frequently asked questions about the virus and steps to follow to avoid contracting it.
As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the world, medical experts are trying to increase awareness on how to tackle the deadly disease that has claimed over 4,000 lives. The virus has infected over one lakh people in more than 100 countries. The COVID-19 pathogen is believed to have originated in a market that sold wild animals China’s Wuhan. Governments across the world have ramped up precautions against the disease and have issued travel bans and advisories.
- What is the novel coronavirus?
- What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- How does coronavirus spread?
- What to do to prevent getting infected with coronavirus?
- How can you detect coronavirus?
- What is the cure for coronavirus?
- How much time does it take to recover from coronavirus?
- I have the symptoms for coronavirus. What do I do now?
- Does coronavirus spread through air?
- Can coronavirus spread through faeces?
- Are face masks the best precaution against coronavirus?
- Can coronavirus spread through animal sources?
- Can coronavirus spread through pets?
- Can antibiotics cure coronavirus infection?
- The right medical advice we all need on coronavirus
- Stop buying face masks
- Stay informed
Awareness about the highly contagious disease is extremely important in this crucial time. There are a number of frequently asked questions about the virus and steps to avoid contracting it. We shall discuss some of them and also debunk common misconceptions.
A. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 is a new strain earlier not recognised in humans. The virus can be transmitted between humans and animals.
A. Common signs of COVID-19 infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
A. The infection can be spread from people who have the virus. The disease can spread from droplets of the nose or mouth and are spread when an infected person coughs or exhales. When the droplets come in contact with others and they touch their mouth or eyes or nose, the infection spreads.
People can also catch the virus if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs or exhales droplets. World Health Organisation says studies suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.
A. There are a few safety and hygiene steps to follow to avoid getting infected.
- Regularly wash hands thoroughly with alcohol-based hand rub or wash with soap and water. Wash hands before and after meals and at regular intervals to get rid of viruses.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing to avoid contracting droplets from anyone infected.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth without washing.
- 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 your local health authority.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If you used a tissue, dispose of tissue immediately.
A. The incubation period ranges from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. After early symptoms appear, there are three rounds of tests that need to be done to confirm if someone is infected. They are then kept in isolation.
A. There are no vaccines and no specific medicines to prevent or treat coronavirus. However, hospitalisation and care is very important for recovery. Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.
All countries are taking preventive measures to control the disease and working closely with health experts to contain it. As research continues on the disease, it is advisable to not panic and not pay heed to rumours about the virus.
A. Most people who are infected will recover. Recovery time varies from person to person depending on the severity of the disease. People with mild symptoms may recover within a few days. People who have pneumonia may take longer to recover (days to weeks). In cases of severe, life-threatening illness, it may take months for a person to recover.
A. Call a doctor for check-up immediately; it is highly likely that you will be quarantined. Stay indoors as much as possible untill the test results are back. Avoid public areas and public transport and maintain distance from other people. Use a separate bathroom, if possible. Limit contact with pets and animals. Wear a face mask and cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing. Dispose used tissues carefully and clean hands often. Do not share utensils or clothes and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched regularly.
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.
There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.
Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease
Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that coud occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting COVID-19 cases.
Even though the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures. If you think a surface may be contaminated, use a disinfectant to clean it. After touching it, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
What are the common misconceptions about coronavirus?
A. No. One of the common misconceptions of coronavirus infection is that it can spread through the air. However, it is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets.
A. 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.
A. People with no respiratory symptoms, such as cough, do not need to wear a medical mask. People with symptoms should wear a mask as a preventive measure. Not all masks help in prevention of the spread of virus. There are some masks that would work which also need proper training to put on. Ensure the mask is clean, unused, has no holes and clean your hands before putting it on. Discard the mask after use and wash hands again.
A. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed. However, for protection, while visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.
A. There is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.
A. No, antibiotics do not work against viruses and only work on bacterial infections
Effective hygiene is one of the most effective weapons to slow or prevent the virus spreading. Here are five things you can do to protect yourself and others.
1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Our hands touch door handles, keyboards, taps and numerous other surfaces, so the virus could easily be picked up this way. Rubbing tired eyes or touching your nose or mouth could transfer the virus from your hands into your body.
2. Wash your hands regularly
Clean your hands thoroughly and often, using plenty of soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub to kill any virus on your hands. Scrub for at least 20 seconds, making sure you clean fingers, thumbs and palms.
3. Practise respiratory hygiene
If you cough or sneeze, use a tissue and throw it in the trash afterwards. If you don’t have a tissue, cough into the crook of your arm instead of using your hand. If possible, avoid coughing or sneezing near other people.
4. Maintain social distancing
Be aware of people around you and keep your distance from anyone coughing or sneezing. Stay at least 1 metre away to prevent inhaling the small liquid droplets sprayed by coughs and sneezes.
5. If any symptoms develop, seek medical care early
Stay at home if you feel unwell, and if you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing seek medical attention. Call in advance of your visit, and follow the advice of your local health provider – they will have the most up-to-date information on the situation in your area.
And here are a couple of other important things to be aware of that can help efforts to contain the virus.
Unless you are a healthcare professional, you probably don’t need to wear a face mask because of COVID-19. While masks may prevent a wearer with the disease coughing over others, it is unlikely to prevent the disease being transferred to someone healthy who is wearing a mask.
Panic buying has caused a huge spike in demand for masks, leaving many businesses sold out.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises only wearing a face mask if you are sick or caring for someone with the disease, as there is a risk that mask supplies will run out for health professionals who need them.
Accurate information about COVID-19 and its spread is essential. But beware, because there is a lot of misinformation, scaremongering and fake news floating around on social media that can hamper efforts to contain the virus.
The latest information is available by visiting trusted sources like the World Health Organization’s information page.