COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus discovered very recently. This new virus and disease was unknown until the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
1. What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause disease in animals or humans. Several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections in humans, ranging from normal constipation to more serious diseases, such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The recently discovered coronavirus causes a disease called the COVID-19 coronavirus.
2. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, dry cough and difficulty breathing. Some patients may experience pain, nasal congestion, itchy nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people are infected, but have no symptoms and feel good. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing supportive treatment. About 1 in 6 people infected with COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops breathing difficulties. Elderly people and people who have underlying medical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 3.4% of people with the disease died. People with fever, cough and breathing difficulties should seek medical attention.
3. How does COVID-19 spread?
People can get COVID-19 from other people infected with the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets that spread out of the nose or mouth when a person with COVID-19 coughs, exhales, speaks or sings. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person, so when other people touch those objects or surfaces and then touch the eyes, nose or mouth there they contract COVID-19. People can also contract COVID-19 if they inhale the droplets that come out when a person with COVID-19 coughs, exhales, speaks or sings. This is why it is important to be more than 1 meter (3 feet) from a sick person. WHO is evaluating ongoing research on the ways in which COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.
4. Is it possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted over the air?
Studies so far suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted primarily through contact with respiratory droplets, not through air. See the previous answer in “How does COVID-19 spread?”
5. How likely am I to get COVID-19?
The risk depends on where you live or where you have recently traveled. The risk of infection is greatest in areas where several people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. However, it is important to be aware of the situation and preparedness efforts in your area.
WHO is working with health authorities in China and the world to monitor and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks.
6. Who is at risk of developing serious illnesses?
Although we are still studying how COVID-2019 affects humans, it is known that elderly people and people with other diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes are at greater risk of developing serious illness than other people.
7. Is there a vaccine, medication or treatment for COVID-19?
Not yet. So far, there is no specific vaccine or antiviral drug to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, affected people should be cared for to relieve symptoms. People with severe illness should be hospitalized. Most patients with COVID-19 recover with basic support measures.
Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are being investigated. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and drugs to prevent and treat COVID-19.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 are: washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth and nose with the curve of your elbow or handkerchief when you cough or exhale, keep a distance of at least 1 meter ( 3 feet) of people. For more information, see the basic protection measures against the new coronavirus.
8. How long does the COVID-19 incubate?
The “incubation period” means the time between infection with the virus and the onset of symptoms of the disease. Most COVID-19 incubation period estimates range from 2 to 14 days, usually about five days. These estimates will be updated as more data becomes available.
9. How long does the virus survive on the surface?
It is unclear how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on the surface, but it appears to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information about the COVID-19 virus) may persist on the surface for a few hours or even several days. This can vary under different conditions (for example, type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol gel or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
10. Is there anything I shouldn’t be doing?
The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:
- Taking traditional herbal remedies
- Use multiple masks
- Taking self-medication, such as antibiotics
In any case, if you have a fever, cough and breathing difficulties, seek medical attention in advance to reduce the risk of developing a more serious infection and share your recent travel history with your doctor.
To citizens who have recently been in the affected countries and who show symptoms that indicate Coronavirus, MISAU recommends that they go to the Health Units (US) to be evaluated by the medical teams in service, and that they comply with the following guidelines:
➡ Wear a mask or handkerchief to cover your mouth and nose;
➡ All family members and close people must follow basic hygiene measures, such as:
✅ Always wash your hands with soap and water or ash;
✅ Cook meat and eggs well;
✅ Wash dishes, glasses, cups and spoons with soap and water;
✅ Open the windows to allow more air circulation;
➡ If you have a fever, dry cough, nasal discharge, headache, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and others within 14 days of arriving in the country, go to the nearest Health Unit.