General information COVID-19
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease which is caused by the recently discovered Coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals or humans. COVID-19 was unknown before the outbreak started in China, back in December 2019.
What are the symptoms this coronavirus causes?
The virus can cause pneumonia-like symptoms. Those who have fallen ill have been reported to suffer from a dry cough, fever, breathing difficulties and or tiredness. In severe cases, there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. Also, some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell at all. Typically, those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes and the elderly are more likely to become seriously ill.
Should I go to the doctors if I have the COVID-19 virus symptoms?
This advice varies per country but in most European countries, the medical advice is now that the household of anyone who develops a new persistent cough or high temperature should all stay at home for 14 days, keeping away from other people. This applies to everyone, regardless of whether they have travelled abroad.
You should look at your national dedicated coronavirus websites for further information. If you get worse or your symptoms last longer than seven days, you should call your doctor or health agency.
Is the virus being transmitted from one person to another?
China’s National Health Commission confirmed human-to-human transmission in January. There is now extensive human to human transmission across the world. WHO is currently assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share their updated findings.
How many people have been affected?
As of the 18th of March, the World Health Organization announced that there are 207,860 confirmed cases of people infected with COVID-19, there have been 8,657 deaths and there are 166 countries, areas or territories with cases around the world. You can keep up to date with the latest global numbers and numbers by country of COVID-19 cases on a daily basis via the WHO Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation dashboard.
Have there been other Coronaviruses?
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are both caused by Coronaviruses that came from animals. In 2002, SARS spread virtually unchecked to 37 countries, causing global panic, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing more than 750. MERS appears to be less easily passed from human to human, but has greater lethality, killing 35% of around 2,500 people who have been infected.
Should I be worried about COVID-19?
A COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, COVID-19 can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch COVID-19 need intensive hospital care. It is normal in these uncertain times for us all to worry about becoming infected. However, we must channel our worries and turn them into actions to protect ourselves, our families and the community.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
It is important that we stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak. We can do this by checking the World Health Organization’s website and through your national and local public health authority websites, as these are reliable sources.
A crucial difference is that unlike flu, there is no vaccine for the new Coronavirus, which means it is more difficult for vulnerable members of the population – elderly people or those with existing respiratory or immune problems – to protect themselves. However, possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are currently under investigation. For now, it is important to ensure that you are correctly washing your hands and that you avoid other people if you feel unwell. In addition to, covering your cough with a bent elbow or catching your cough in a tissue, and making sure that you maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.