Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus named; SARS-CoV-2. This virus is composed of RNA enveloped with club-like spikes proteins. When SARS-CoV-2 enters the body it can cause serious illness and to fight it the immune system begins producing specific antibodies.

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. 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. 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 to Stay safe from COVID-19?

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain at least 1 meter (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 virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

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.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

Fact or Inexact

COVID-19 is a new emerging disease, and myths around it are being invented by people from untrusted sources, who are in turn sharing it amongst the community.

This section aims to fight these myths, offer what is true, and make sure it’s from an authentic source. We will share trusted and proven facts to decrease stress and anxiety of the public and try to deliver this to enlighten people while keeping the information simple and precise.

TRUE: till now, there’s no specific treatment for the new coronavirus. Patients infected with the virus must receive supportive treatment (oxygen if needed, antipyretics, ventilation..)

People of ALL AGES can be infected by the new coronavirus. However, older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

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. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings are available.

The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

there is NO evidence that pets can transmit the virus or that they might be a source of infection. However, CDC does recommend that if you are sick with the COVID-19 to limit contact with animals, until more information is known about the virus.

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Discontinuation of home isolation has 2 different strategies, non-test- based and test-based.

In the non-test-based strategy, home isolation can be stopped when all three are met:

Patient has no fever without the use of antipyretics (fever-reducing meds) for at least 3 days, his respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) have improved, and at least 7 days have passed since the appearance of his first symptoms. For the test based strategy, all three should be met: patient has no fever without the use of antipyretics (fever-reducing meds), his respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) have improved, at least 2 consecutive tests collected ≥24 hours apart from nasopharyngeal swab specimens are negative.

WHO Tips for Public

Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose.

You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

Most of the people who catch COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies. If you catch the disease, make sure you treat your symptoms. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call your health facility by telephone first. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have the virus producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test. You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.

Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems.

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

To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.

No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus. However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.

No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.

No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.

Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.

No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

No. antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible

COVID-19 testing

Currently there are two tests used to diagnose COVID-19: quantitative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (qRT-PCR) and serological test (antigen-antibody). qRT-PCR assay detects the viral RNA in few hours and thus can inform the physician whether the patient has an active infection. This assay was quickly developed after the publication of the viral RNA sequence (Li-Li and colleagues, Chinese Medical Journal, March 2020). For optimal results, samples should be collected from either the alveolar lavage fluid or the nasopharyngeal swab or sputum. qRT-PCR is currently the most reliable test for diagnosing COVID-19 infection, and if sample collection is performed correctly, the detection sensitivity reaches 80%.

On the other hand, novel serological test could provide some insights. The test uses a few drops of your blood to determine whether you have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to get the result. Checking to see if someone has COVID-19 antibodies is good evidence that they’ve been infected. However, because it likely takes the body few weeks to produce these antibodies, this test isn't useful for tracking the infection in real time. Having identifiable COVID-19 antibodies in the bloodstream also means you've probably built up immunity (Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH). The serological tests are already widely used in China and South Korea. The Food and Drug Administration has now issued its first authorization for a COVID-19 serological test that is produced by the biotechnology company Cellex.

Concerning recovery, it is noteworthy to mention that COVID-19 patients may be discharged from hospital and moved to home care based on:

  • Clinical criteria (no fever for more than 3 days, improved respiratory symptoms, pulmonary imaging showing obvious absorption of inflammation, no hospital care needed for other pathologies)
  • Laboratory evidence of COVID-19 clearance in respiratory samples; 2 negative qRT-PCR tests for respiratory tract samples (with interval ≥ 24 hours).
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