Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses which may cause diseases in animals or humans. It is known that in humans, several coronaviruses cause respiratory infections, starting from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The coronavirus discovered lately causes COVID-19 disease.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus discovered lately. Both the new virus and the disease had been unknown before the epidemic in Wuhan, China, broke out in December 2019.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, fatigue and dry cough. Some patients may experience aches, blocked nose, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhoea. Such symptoms are usually mild and increase gradually. Some people get infected, but show no symptoms and do not feel unwell. Most people (approx. 80%) recover from the disease without the necessity of special treatment. Nearly 1 out of 6 people who fall ill with COVID-19 experience more severe symptoms and have difficulties breathing. Elderly people and people with concurrent diseases, such as arterial hypertension, heart diseases or diabetes, more often have more severe symptoms.
People may get infected with COVID-19 from other people who are carriers. The disease may spread from person to person through small droplets from nose or mouth when a COVID-19 carrier coughs or breaths out. Such droplets land on items and surfaces around this person. Other people may subsequently get infected with COVID-19 by touching such items or surfaces and then their eyes, nose or mouth. This is why it is so important to keep a safe distance of at least 2 meters from others.
Can you get infected with COVID-19 from a person who does not show any symptoms yet?
The main mode of transmission of the disease are respiratory droplets produced by a person who coughs or sneezes. However, may people infected with COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms. It is particularly noticeable at early stages of the disease. This is why it is possible to get infected with COVID-19 from a person who, for instance, only has a mild cough and does not feel unwell.
Can I get infected with COVID-19 through contact with ill person’s faecal matter?
The risk of getting infected with COVID-19 through contact with ill person’s faecal matter appears to be low. Although early research suggests that in some cases the virus may be present in faecal matter, this mode of spreading is not the main feature of the outbreak. However, as this risk exists, it is yet another reason for washing your hands regularly, also after using the restroom and before eating.
You can decrease the risk of getting infected or spreading COVID-19 by following a few simple precautions:
Do you feel unwell, have a fever, cough and have difficulties breathing? Do you suspect the coronavirus? Keep calm and learn what to do.
If you have symptoms such as:
call the nearest sanitary and epidemiological station or take advantage of remote advice of your primary care physician.
Symptoms of COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-19) include:
If you have such symptoms:
If you have been exposed to a person infected or ill with the coronavirus, immediately call the sanitary and epidemiological station and describe your situation. You will receive information on what to do next.
IIf you have observed any of the symptoms, immediately call the sanitary and epidemiological station. Furthermore, every patient who shows symptoms of an acute respiratory infection (fever over 38°C along with cough or shortness of breath) in connection with epidemiological criteria should be admitted to an isolation ward or an observation and isolation ward. Should you observe such symptoms, go to the hospital with an isolation ward or an observation and isolation ward. If you cannot get to the hospital by your own means of transportation, a primary care physician (as part of remote advice) and the sanitary and epidemiological station may order sanitary transportation to pick you up.
Should you have any questions, call the hotline of the National Health Fund: +48 800 190 590. The hotline is available all around the clock, seven days a week.
Use reliable sources of information, do not panic. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Generally, the disease caused by COVID-19 is mild, particularly in children and young adults. However, it can cause a sever illness: approx. 1 out of 5 people who get infected needs hospital care. Therefore, it is understandable why people are worried about how the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic will affect them and their loved ones.
However, instead of worrying, we can focus on taking activities aimed at protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. The most important activities include staying at home, washing your hands frequently and carefully as well as practicing appropriate respiratory hygiene when coughing or sneezing.
We are still discovering who COVID-19 affects people. However, elderly people and people with concurrent diseases (such as arterial hypertension, heart diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer or diabetes) seem to have more often have more severe symptoms than others.
No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work against bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, thus, antibiotics do not work in this case. Antibiotics should not be applied as a preventative measure or to treat COVID-19. They should only be applied in line with physician’s recommendations when treating a bacterial infection.
The WHO does not recommend self-treatment using any drugs, including antibiotics, with the aim of preventing or treating COVID-19. However, trials/tests of various drugs are being conducted now.
Not yet. Until now, there has been neither vaccine nor a specific antiviral drug which would prevent or treat COVID-19. However, people affected by the disease should receive help in mitigating the symptoms. Those with acute respiratory problems should be hospitalized.
Currently, potential vaccines and some drugs are being tested. They are tested as part of clinical trials. The WHO recommends making efforts aimed at developing vaccines and drugs in order to prevent and treat COVID-19.
The most effective way of protecting yourself and others against COVID-19 is staying at home, washing your hands frequently, following appropriate respiratory hygiene when coughing or sneezing and other precautions.
No. The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that caused the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are genetically related, but the diseases they cause are totally different.
SARS was more deadly, but much less infectious than COVID-19. There have been no outbreaks of SARS anywhere in the world since 2003.
“Incubation period” means time between getting infected with the virus and when symptoms of the disease appear. In most cases, the incubation period of COVID-19 is approx. between 1 to 14 days, most often about 5 days. This estimate will be updated when more data is available.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses which are common in animals. People sometimes get infected with these viruses, which may subsequently spread on others. For instance, SARS-CoV was related to cats, whereas MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not been confirmed yet.
In order to protect yourself, remember to follow good food safety practices. Be careful when dealing with raw meat, milk or offal in order to avoid contamination of food that has not been subject to heat treatment and avoid eating raw or undercooked products of animal origin.
Although there was one case of an infected dog in Hong Kong, so far, there has been no evidence that a dog, a cat or any other animal may transmit the virus causing COVID-19.
It is uncertain how long the virus causing COVID-19 lasts on surfaces, but it seems that it behaves like other coronaviruses. Research suggests that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the virus causing COVID-19) may last on surfaces for several hours or even a few days. It may differ in various conditions (e.g. depending on a type of surface, temperature or ambient humidity).
If you believe that a given surface may be infected, clean it using a disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with water and soap or an alcohol-based disinfectant. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
The source of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 is not known yet. All the available evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 comes from animals.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.
You may get infected if you are within 1 meter from a person who suffers from COVID-19 or by touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands.