Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As we learn more, we will continue to provide updates with the most recent information available.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
COVID-19 causes mild to extreme respiratory illness. Most people infected with the virus will recover on their own, without requiring special treatment. However, some individuals are at a higher risk for developing a more serious illness.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Dry cough.
Other symptoms of COVID-19 may be:
- Aches and pains
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).
- Practice social distancing and maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, where the virus can easily eater your body
- Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
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.
Cancer patients are among those at a higher risk of illness due to compromised immune systems, stemming from cancer treatment.
We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness, so it’s a;ways important for expecting mothers to take extra precautions.
Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.
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.
Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.
Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. For information about testing, see Testing for COVID-19.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.
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.
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 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.
Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer, although other viruses like the common cold and flu are less prevalent in warmer months.