What is a Coronavirus?
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. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
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 does COVID-19 spread?
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 Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.
Can COVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?
The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.
What are the things to do to protect ourselves and prevent the spread of disease?
Among the standard recommendations of the World Health Organization to prevent the spread of infection are to wash the hands regularly, cover the nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or the bend of elbow when coughing or sneezing, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. It is necessary to avoid close contact with people who show symptoms of respiratory disorders, such as coughing and sneezing. In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider. Follow the directions of your local health authority. 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 these places.
Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. 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. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms.
Should a mask be worn to prevent disease?
Wearing a medical mask can help limit the spread of some respiratory diseases. However, using a mask alone is not guaranteed to stop infections. The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19.
How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?
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.
Can humans become infected with the COVID-19 from an animal source?
Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed. There is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.
How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
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).
Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?
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.
Is there anything that we should not do?
The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:
- Wearing multiple masks
- Taking antibiotics
In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.
Specialist Dr. Fatma Nur Özdoğan
Bayındır Icerenkoy Hospital, Infectious Diseases Specialist
What is a Coronavirus?