What is the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some infect people and are known to cause illness ranging from a cold to more severe diseases. The new coronavirus and its disease (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first found in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
  • There are still some things we don’t know about the virus, but researchers are working hard to find out how to prevent and cure it.

How dangerous is it?

  • For most people, coronavirus is mild and similar to a cold (runny nose, fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath);
  • It can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. For example, older people, and people with weak immune system or existing illnesses (such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart or lung disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
  • The disease can lead to death, but this is rare.

How does someone get the virus?

  • A healthy person can get the virus from an infected person. The virus spreads through direct contact with ‘drops’ of saliva containing the virus. These fluids come out of the nose or mouth.

For example, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, these droplets can enter the eyes, nose or mouth of another person or if an infected person sneezes and coughs into their hands and touch another person or a surface or when a person touches surfaces and objects that are contaminated by those droplets. It is not yet known if and how long the virus lasts on surfaces, but alcohol based hand gel can kill it.

The new coronavirus is usually transmitted through close contact with an infected person, for example, when caring for them. “Close contact” means physically touching them, touching items they have used or coughed on, or spending a lot of time within 1 meter of them while they are sick

What can I do to protect myself and my family?

Here are five precautions you and your family can take to avoid infection:

  1. Wash your hands frequently using soap and water. If soap is not available, alcohol based hand gel may be used to wash away germs.
  2. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth or nose with your bent elbow or a tissue. Try to not sneeze and cough into your hands because then you will spread the virus with your hands. Throw the tissue into a bin. If you cough/sneeze into your hand, don’t touch anything and immediately wash your hands with soap and water.
  3. Avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or sick. Keep at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance and encourage them to go to a nearby healthcare center.
  4. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many things which can be contaminated with the virus.
  5. We do not see a doctor or health care provider if mild respiratory tract symptoms occur (cough, runny nose, fever, pharyngitis).

Do I need a mask to protect myself against COVID-19?

No, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is to simply wash your hands well and often.

  • If you’re healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person that might have COVID-19. 8 20 Feb. 2020
  • If you are sneezing or coughing often, you should wear a mask so that you don’t spread the virus through coughing or sneezing around other people or onto surfaces.

Is the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) very contagious/ is it easy to get the virus?

Coronavirus is harder to catch than you think. It takes close, direct contact with a sick person (or with objects and surfaces the person has used) to become infected with the virus. Many of the people who get the disease are caregivers and family members caring for a sick person without personal protective equipment.

 Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?

The disease can be treated, and many people have already recovered from it. While there is no specific medicine recommended, those infected with the virus should receive care to relieve and treat symptoms. Those with severe illness should get care in a hospital.

 Is there a vaccine?

There is no vaccine yet because this is a new virus. It takes time to develop a new vaccine that is efficient and safe. Researchers are working on it.

 Does having a COVID-19 patient in a hospital in my country put all people at risk?

Hospitals are prepared to care for patients with infectious diseases. Having a patient of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a hospital means they will receive the right treatment to help them get healthy and prevent the disease from spreading.

 Should we avoid people coming from China?

We should use the same protective measures with any person (no matter the nationality, origin, etc) who may be sick and have symptoms similar to a cold (runny nose, fever, sore throat, cough and short-ness of breath). These include washing hands often with water and soap or alcohol-based hand gel to wash the germs off hands; keeping a distance from anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or sick (at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance and encouraging them to go to a nearby healthcare center.

 Should we avoid Chinese food?

The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is not spread by eating Chinese food. It is safe to eat any fully cooked food in a hygienic and clean environment.

 How can I keep my child safe?

It is important to teach your children to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You should also teach them to cough/sneeze into their bent elbow or into a tissue and put the tissue directly into the garbage and wash their hands right after. Keep windows open at home and on public transport so the air circulates and carries germs away!


If you are worried that you have been infected with the coronavirus, please call 1135