Woman spraying hand sanitizer on a man's hand to prevent spread of Coronavirus

In the last few weeks, our routines, plans, schedules, habits, and many other aspects of our lives have changed drastically. The reason is the same for all of us: coronavirus. Also known as COVID-19, the virus that has been rapidly spreading across the globe. On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock, and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have, therefore, made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

Director-General of the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, at the media briefing on COVID-19

We understand the massive impact of the new virus on the lives of our clients, colleagues, and readers, so we have decided to address the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 in this article.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. Several coronaviruses cause respiratory infections in humans, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the most recently discovered coronavirus. The first case of the new coronavirus was registered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

What does COVID-19 mean?

With any virus outbreak, it is essential to have a name for it. Assigning one helps identify the virus being discussed and avoid confusion. COVID-19 got its name in February and it is a combination of the first letters of the words ‘coronavirus’, ‘virus,’ and ‘disease.’ 

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

There is no COVID-19 vaccine available at this time. However, about 35 companies and academic institutions are actively working to create such a vaccine.

The Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle began testing the vaccine on Monday, March 16 on volunteers. A 43-year-old woman was the first person to receive the vaccine. The vaccine does not expose its recipients to COVID-19 and uses genetic material called RNA. A total of 45 people will receive the vaccine in a period of six weeks, but it will take up to 18 months to see if the vaccine is effective.

On Tuesday, March 17, Chinese scientists announced they are using 5 different approaches to develop the vaccine.

A vaccine being developed in Shanghai is anticipated to enter clinical trials by mid-April, according to a health official from that region.

How many people will die from COVID-19?

As of March 19, according to live statistics, 94,172 cases had the following outcome: 91% of infected patients recovered, and 9% of them died. However, we are seeing that the death rate differs from country to country. In China, for example, the death rate is 4.44% out of 72,851 closed cases. The probability of dying from COVID-19 increases in older patients and in patients with chronic diseases. To see the chart of fatality rates by age, click here.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

– Fever
– Tiredness
– Dry cough

Some might also experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat, or even diarrhea.

The symptoms, in most cases, are mild and develop gradually. Some people do not show any signs at all and about 80 percent of those infected recover without special treatment. Statistically, about 1 in every 6 infected people becomes seriously ill and has difficulty breathing. Serious illness is more likely to develop in patients who are older or have underlying medical problems such as heart problems, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

When should I seek medical attention?

If you have a fever, cough, and have difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 can spread from an infected person to a healthy person through small droplets from the mouth or nose This can happen when a person coughs or exhales. These droplets might also land on surfaces or objects around the infected person. In this case, a person infects themselves by first touching the contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. This is why it is crucial to stay away from an infected person (through the practice of “social distancing”), to frequently wash your hands, and avoid touching your face.

Can the virus be transmitted through the air?

No evidence shows COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air. Studies suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air, according to WHO.

Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

There has been only one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, but there is no evidence that any pet, including a dog or a cat, can transmit the virus causing COVID-19.

Is it safe to receive a package from areas where COVID-19 has been reported?

According to the World Health Organization, the chances of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, transported, and exposed to different conditions is low at this point. However, it never hurts to be extra cautious and wash your hands after touching the package and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

What are the steps to avoid catching COVID-19?

This is not a comprehensive list, but the CDC recommends you:

– Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Do it more often when you visit public spaces or if you blow your nose, sneeze, or cough.
– Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.
– Avoid close contact with infected people.
– If you live in the area where COVID-19 is being spread, keep a safe distance from others. 

For more details visit cdc.gov

What are the steps to avoid spreading COVID-19?

Avoiding catching the virus is crucial for your health, but it’s equally important to prevent spreading the virus as well. Because the symptoms might not show up until 2-14 days after the exposure to the virus, it’s vital to keep frequently touched surfaces clean. Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, even if you are convinced it’s your allergies or the common cold. Other helpful steps to avoid spreading COVID-19 are:

– Stay home if you are sick.
– Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow.
– Throw the used tissues in the trash.
– Wash your hands immediately after sneezing, coughing, visiting a public space, or riding public transport. If you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
– If you are sick, wear a mask when sharing a room or vehicle with other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you can’t wear a mask (because you have trouble breathing), cover all of your sneezes and coughs. If other people enter your room, they should also wear a mask.
– Cleaning and disinfecting might be another helpful step to stop the virus from spreading. Frequently touched surfaces include doorknobs, tables, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
– Avoid touching your phone with unwashed hands. If you need to answer a call in a public space or message a friend, make sure to avoid touching your face after. Clean your phone at home with a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
– Don’t use your computer with unwashed hands, and sanitize your keyboard, touchpad, and mouse daily.

For more tips on disinfecting visit cdc.gov

We see recommendations on ‘what to do,’ but what are things we should avoid doing?

According to the World Health Organization, measures that are not effective against the coronavirus and can be harmful are:

– Smoking
– Wearing multiple masks
– Taking antibiotics

What are the differences between the flu, common cold, and COVID-19?

Although there are many similarities between the novel coronavirus and Influenza, COVID-19 is not just the flu, nor is it a common cold. As a coronavirus causes COVID-19, influenza viruses cause the flu. The flu quickly spreads from person to person, especially in the first five days of infection.

A common cold develops gradually and primarily affects the head and nose. A person with a common cold usually has mild symptoms and fatigue. A common cold generally doesn’t cause a fever, and a person can typically recover without any special treatment.

With the flu, symptoms tend to be much more severe and develop quickly. The symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

Although COVID-19 and the flu share some common symptoms like a fever and dry cough, COVID-19 causes shortness of breath and difficulty breathing – which is a sign to seek immediate help, according to CNN Health.

COVID-19 is considered more infectious than the flu. And, because an infected individual doesn’t always show symptoms, he or she can unknowingly spread the virus to even more people. Other newly infected individuals might not show signs either. Therefore, it can travel farther and at a faster pace. Remember, the symptoms for COVID-19 can appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Here’s the Bottom Line

If you think you are infected with COVID-19, seek medical attention. If you have a mask, wear it to prevent the virus from spreading and keep a safe distance from other people. Your doctor will determine if you need to be tested for the virus.

In stressful situations like this, it’s essential to keep calm and help each other out instead of spreading panic and fear. When we’re stressed, our immune system takes a hit, ultimately making us more susceptible to viral infections. Being alert and proactive, yet calm in times like these will help you stay healthy and will enable you to help others if needed.

“And let’s all look out for each other because we need each other.”

Director-General of the World Health Organization on March 11 at the media briefing on COVID-19. 

We hope you are able to use the steps above to stay safe and healthy throughout this pandemic and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to those around you.