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All you wanted to know about coronavirus but were embarrassed to ask: WHO answers

As the coronavirus spreads around the world, many theories and fakes arise regarding where it came from and what symptoms it causes. World Health Organization (WHO) decided to answer the most common questions about the virus and the disease it causes.

Photo: Shutterstock

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses constitute an extensive family of viruses with proven pathogenic properties in relation to humans or animals. It is known that a number of coronaviruses can cause respiratory infections in humans ranging from the common cold to more serious conditions, such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The last of the recently discovered coronaviruses causes COVID ‑ 19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID ‑ 19 is an infectious disease caused by the last of the recently discovered coronaviruses. Prior to the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, nothing was known about the new virus and disease.

What are the symptoms of COVID ‑ 19?

The most common symptoms of COVID ‑ 19 include fever, fatigue, and dry cough. A number of patients may experience various pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, pharyngitis, or diarrhea. As a rule, these symptoms develop gradually and are mild. Some infected individuals do not experience any symptoms or well-being.

In most people (about 80%), the disease ends in recovery, with no specific therapeutic measures required. In about one in six cases of COVID-19, severe symptoms occur with the development of respiratory failure. In older people, as well as people with existing somatic diseases, such as arterial hypertension, heart disease or diabetes, the likelihood of a severe course of the disease is higher. If you have fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.

How does the virus spread?

You can get 2019 nCoV from other people if they are infected with the virus. The disease can be transmitted from person to person through small drops released from the nose or mouth of a COVID ‑ 19 patient by coughing or sneezing. These drops fall on objects and surfaces surrounding a person. Other people may become infected by touching such objects or surfaces first and then with their eyes, nose, or mouth. In addition, infection can occur by inhalation of the small drops that are released when a person coughs or sneezes with COVID ‑ 19. For this reason, it is important to stay away from a sick person at a distance of more than 1 meter.

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WHO is monitoring the progress of studies on the route of transmission of COVID-19 and will publish information as it is updated.

Is the virus causing COVID-19 transmitted through the air?

According to current scientific data, it is precisely the small drops released from the respiratory tract that are a more significant transmission factor than air.

Can I get COVID-19 from someone who has no symptoms?

The virus mainly spreads through droplets secreted from the human respiratory tract by coughing or sneezing. The risk of infection from a person who does not have any symptoms is extremely low. On the other hand, in many people, the symptoms of COVID-19 are very mild. This is especially true in the early stages of the disease.

Thus, the risk of transmitting COVID-19 from a person who does not feel sick and has only a mild cough exists. WHO is monitoring ongoing research on the time interval during which a sick person remains contagious and will publish information as it updates.

Can I get COVID-19 through the feces of a sick person?

The risk of contracting 2019-nCoV through the feces of an infected person appears to be small. According to preliminary studies, the virus can in some cases be detected in feces, however, such a transmission mechanism does not play a leading role in the current outbreak. WHO is examining the results of ongoing studies regarding the transfer of COVID-19 and will publish information as it is updated. This risk cannot be completely discounted, and this once again confirms the importance of regular hand washing after using the toilet and before eating.

Personal precautions for everyone

Stay up-to-date on flash information that can be found on WHO website, as well as from national and local public health representatives. In many countries, COVID-19 has been reported, and in some outbreaks. The Chinese authorities, as well as a number of other countries in which outbreaks were recorded, managed to slow down the spread of the disease or completely stop it. Nevertheless, the situation is still unpredictable, and therefore should stay abreast of recent developments.

By taking simple precautions, you can reduce the risk of becoming infected or spreading COVID ‑ 19:

  • Treat your hands regularly with an alcohol-based product or wash them with soap. Why is this needed? If a virus is present on the surface of the hands, treating the hands with an alcohol-containing product or washing them with soap will kill it.
  • Keep at least one meter away from coughing or sneezing people. Why is this needed? When coughing or sneezing from the nose or mouth, the smallest drops containing the virus are released, which the person spreads around him. Being too close to such a person, you risk inhaling these drops and getting infected from him, including a coronavirus infection, if the person is sick with COVID-19.
  • If possible, do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Why is this needed? Hands touch many surfaces and a virus can get onto them. Once in the hands, viral particles can enter the eyes, nose, or mouth. From these parts of the body, the virus can invade the body and cause disease.
  • Both you and others should strictly observe the rules of respiratory hygiene. To do this, cover your mouth or nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. The used tissue should be discarded immediately. Why is this needed? The virus is transmitted through small drops. Strictly observing the rules of respiratory hygiene, you can protect others from viral diseases such as SARS, influenza and COVID-19.
  • If you feel unwell, stay home. If you have a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Follow directions from your local health authority. Why is this needed? The central and local health authorities have the most up-to-date information about the situation in your area of ​​residence. Timely seeking medical help will allow medical specialists to promptly refer you to a suitable medical institution. In addition, you thereby protect yourself and help prevent the spread of viral and other infections.
  • Keep up to date with the COVID-19 High-Risk Areas list (cities or areas where COVID-19 is widespread). Whenever possible, refrain from traveling, especially if you are an elderly person or suffer from diabetes, heart or lung diseases. Why is this needed? In these areas, you are at increased risk of becoming infected with COVID ‑ 19.

Personal protective measures for those who have recently (over the past 14 days) visited COVID ‑ 19 distribution regions:

  • Follow the guidelines above. (“Personal protective measures for all”)
  • If you feel unwell, stay home until you recover., even if you have mild symptoms of the disease, such as a headache, low-grade fever (37,3 ° C or higher), or a slight runny nose. If you ask someone to bring you groceries and go to the store for you, use a mask so as not to infect a person who comes to you. Why is this needed? By refraining from contact with others and not visiting medical institutions, you help these institutions to work more efficiently and protect yourself and others from possible infection with COVID-19 or other viral infections.
  • If you have fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, do not delay seeking medical these symptoms may be caused by a respiratory infection or other serious illness. Contact your healthcare provider immediately and let your healthcare professional know of all recent trips or contacts with travelers. Why is this needed? Timely seeking medical help will allow medical specialists to promptly refer you to a suitable medical institution. In addition, it will help prevent the probable spread of COVID-19 and other viral infections.
How much should I be wary of getting COVID ‑ 19?

The level of risk is determined by the place of your stay, or rather the presence or absence of an outbreak in the area.

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For most people in most regions, the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is still low. However, in parts of the world (cities or areas), the disease continues to spread. The risk of infection is higher for those who live in or visit such areas.

Governments and health authorities are vigorously responding to every new COVID-19 infection. If there are local restrictions on travel, movement or public events, observe this regime. By supporting disease control measures, you can reduce the risk of becoming infected or spreading COVID ‑ 19.

As the example of China and several other countries testifies, it is in our power to limit the spread of outbreaks of the disease and stop the transmission of infection. Unfortunately, outbreaks can quickly occur in new foci. It is important to stay up to date with the situation in your area or the region that you plan to visit. WHO publishes daily updates on the current epidemiological situation of COVID ‑ 19 worldwide. This information is available at link.

Is COVID ‑ 19 a concern?

Typically, COVID ‑ 19 coronavirus infection is mild, especially in children and young adults. Nevertheless, there is a severe form of infection: in about one out of five cases, patients need hospitalization. Therefore, the concern of people for themselves and loved ones in connection with the outbreak of COVID ‑ 19 is justified.

We can direct our efforts in a constructive direction and take measures to protect our own health, the health of our loved ones and people in our community. The most important and primary measure is regular and thorough hand washing, as well as compliance with the rules of respiratory hygiene.

Secondly, it is necessary to monitor the development of events and adhere to the recommendations of local health authorities, including observing their restrictions on travel, movement or public events. Information on precautions against infection is available at link.

Who is at risk of severe illness?

COVID-19 is not yet complete, but it is likely that a severe course of the disease is more likely to occur in older people, as well as in people with existing somatic diseases (for example, hypertension, heart, lung, cancer, or diabetes).

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating 2019-nCoV infection?

Not. Antibiotics do not act on viruses; they are active only against bacterial infections. COVID ‑ 19 is a viral disease, therefore antibiotics are ineffective. Antibiotics should not be used to prevent or treat COVID ‑ 19. Their use is allowed only as directed by a doctor for the treatment of bacterial infections.

Are there currently any drugs or therapies that can prevent or treat COVID-19?

A number of Western medicine, as well as traditional folk or home remedies can help to improve well-being and alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19, however, there is currently no evidence that would suggest that any of the available drugs can prevent or treat this disease.

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WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medication, including antibiotics, to prevent or treat COVID-19 infection. At the same time, clinical trials of a number of agents of both Western and traditional traditional medicine are underway. WHO will continue to publish updated information as clinical data becomes available.

Is this the same virus that causes SARS?

Not. The virus that causes COVID ‑ 19 belongs to the same virus family as the causative agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV), but it is a different virus. SARS-CoV is more dangerous, but less contagious than COVID-19. Since 2003, SARS outbreaks have not been reported anywhere in the world.

Should I wear a mask to protect myself?

You should wear a mask only if you have symptoms of COVID ‑ 19 (especially a cough) or if you are caring for someone who might be ill with COVID ‑ 19. Disposable masks cannot be reused. If you do not have symptoms of the disease or you do not care for a sick person, using a mask will be irrational. Currently, there is a shortage of masks in the world, so WHO calls on everyone to use it leanly.

WHO advocates the rational use of medical masks, avoiding the use of valuable resources, as well as the misuse of masks.

Among the most effective measures to protect one's own health and the health of others from COVID ‑ 19 are frequent washing of hands, covering the nose and mouth with an elbow or tissue when coughing, and maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter with people who cough or sneeze. See the section on basic precautions for protection against new coronavirus infection for more information.

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of the mask
  1. The mask should only be used by medical professionals, caregivers, and those with symptoms of a respiratory illness such as fever and cough.
  2. Before picking up the mask, treat it with an alcohol-based product or wash it with soap.
  3. Inspect the mask to make sure there are no holes or damage.
  4. The mask has a metal insert, take the mask with the insert up.
  5. Place the mask with the outside of you (brightly colored side).
  6. Put the mask on your face. Bend the metal insert or the retaining clip in the shape of a nose.
  7. Pull the bottom edge of the mask so that it covers your mouth and chin.
  8. Remove the mask after application; Hold the mask by the elastic earloops and do not touch it on your face or clothing, as the mask used may be contaminated with microorganisms.
  9. Throw the mask into a resealable container immediately after use.
  10. After touching or ejecting the mask, hand hygiene should be done: use alcohol-based products, and if the hands are obviously dirty, wash them with soap.
How long does the incubation period of COVID ‑ 19 last?

The incubation period is the period of time between infection and the onset of clinical symptoms of the disease. According to most estimates, the incubation period of COVID ‑ 19 ranges from 1 to 14 days and most often is about five days. These estimates will be updated as new data become available.

Can a person get COVID-19 from an animal?

Coronaviruses make up a vast family of viruses and are widespread in animals. People are infected with these viruses and then transmitted to other people from time to time. For example, it was established that TORS-KoV people were infected from civet, and MERS-CoV from single-humped camels. A possible source of 2019-nCoV among animals has not yet been established.

As an individual protection measure, for example, when visiting livestock markets, direct contact with animals should be avoided, as well as touching surfaces with which animals come into contact. Strictly comply with food safety regulations.

When working with raw meat, milk, animal organs, care should be taken to avoid cross-contamination of other products that have not undergone heat treatment, and, in addition, you should refrain from eating raw or half-baked products of animal origin.

Can I get COVID ‑ 19 from a pet?

One case of dog infection in Hong Kong is known, however, to date, there is no evidence of COVID ‑ 19 infection from dogs, cats, or other domestic animals. COVID ‑ 19 is predominantly distributed through particles in the air that form when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or talks. To protect yourself, you must often and thoroughly wash your hands.

WHO continues to closely monitor the results of new studies on both this and other aspects of COVID ‑ 19, and will publish updated results as they become available.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

The survival time of the 2019 ‑ nCoV virus on surfaces has not yet been precisely determined, but it is assumed that in this parameter it is similar to other representatives of the coronavirus family. According to studies (including preliminary on the pathogen COVID-19), the virus remains viable on surfaces from several hours to several days. The exact timing depends on a number of conditions (for example, surface type, temperature and humidity).

If you suspect that a virus may be present on a surface, treat it with microorganisms and protect yourself and others with a standard disinfectant. Do not forget to wash your hands with alcohol-based products or wash them with soap. Do not touch the eyes, mouth, or nose.

Is it safe to receive parcels from the area where COVID-19 is reported?

Yes. The probability that an infection can be transmitted from a sick person through ordered goods is low, as is the risk of becoming infected with the COVID-19 viral pathogen from packaging that has been moved, transported, and exposed to various weather and temperature conditions.

What should I not do?

The following measures don't help fight COVID ‑ 19 and may cause harm:

  • smoking;
  • simultaneous wearing of several masks;
  • antibiotics.

If you have a high fever, cough and shortness of breath, then to reduce the risk of complicating the infection, you should seek medical help as soon as possible and inform the medical specialist about the places you have visited recently.

Information Links

COVID ‑ 19 Section.

WHO travel recommendations.

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