- Date : 12/11/2021
- Read: 5 mins
Fear, anxiety, and misinformation about COVID-19 are more detrimental to health than the illness itself. Know what the virus is, how it spreads, and how to stay safe during this pandemic
COVID-19, or coronavirus disease, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is an infectious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus infects people through nasal discharge, saliva droplets, or as a result of coming into direct contact with an infected person.
Besides practising basic hygiene etiquette, older people with underlying medical problems must exercise extra care. Those with a medical history of diabetes, chronic respiratory problems, cancer, or cardiovascular diseases are more susceptible to the disease. Since there’s currently no vaccine or treatment methods to cure COVID-19, you must protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus.
Do not fall prey to the fake news and the wildfire of rumours circulating on various social media platforms. Here are some frequently asked questions on the coronavirus pandemic, with answers from the WHO.
1. What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a family of infectious viruses that can cause illness in both humans and animals. It was discovered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
2. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the common cold or flu. Fever, body ache, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, headache and even diarrhoea have been seen among infected patients. Over time, these symptoms might gradually increase from mild to critical, including difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, loss of speech or mobility, chest pain, etc. That said, WHO found that only 1 out of 6 people infected with the virus get seriously ill and require immediate medical assistance. About 80% of infected people recover without any medical intervention.
3. Are there any long-term effects of COVID-19?
Some people who have recovered from COVID-19 may continue to experience certain symptoms like fatigue, respiratory and neurological symptoms. WHO is currently working with researchers to understand more about the long term effects, how long they persist and why they occur.
4. How does the virus spread?
WHO is constantly assessing the ways by which COVID-19 can spread. For now, it’s been found that coming in direct contact with an infected person can spread the virus. It spreads through small droplets expelled while coughing or sneezing when one stands too close to an infected person. Touching one’s eyes, face, nose, or mouth after touching a surface or object exposed to the virus can also spread the disease.
WHO has found no evidence, as yet, of COVID-19 being an airborne disease. But it’s best to maintain a distance of 3 feet from strangers, even if they display no symptoms.
5. How do I protect myself from COVID-19?
Taking some small precautionary steps can help you stay safe and reduce the chance of infection:
- Wear a properly fitted mask in public places at all times to prevent the spread of the virus. It’s imperative to wear a mask to keep yourself and others protected.
- Get yourself fully vaccinated whenever a vaccine is available to you. This is an absolute necessity and must not be avoided.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitiser. Ensure you do this regularly and thoroughly. This will help kill any viruses that may be on your hands.
- Maintain a safe (6 feet) distance from anyone with symptoms. The symptoms develop over time, which means cough/sneeze droplets from an asymptomatic person may also contain the virus.
- Avoid touching your face. Hands can pick up the virus from any surface/object. Once contaminated, touching your face without washing your hands will spread the virus into your body and make you ill.
- Isolate yourself if you see any symptoms. If problems worsen, seek medical help and reach out to your local clinic or hospital – they can help stabilise the situation.
- Stay updated on news from a reputed source like WHO. Avoid travelling to infected hotspots, and maintain social distancing, especially if you have a medical condition involving the heart or lungs.
6. Can any self-medication prevent or cure COVID-19?
Traditional home remedies might provide comfort and help build immunity against the virus. However, as of now, there’s no evidence of any medicine curing or preventing COVID-19. WHO also recommends against trying self-medication – especially the use of antibiotics as a preventive measure or cure. Clinical trials are ongoing, and WHO will constantly update any new information that is derived from these trials.
7. Is it safe to accept packages sent from affected areas?
The chances of the virus surviving on the surface of a package that has travelled through different temperatures and over a few days is very low, so you should be safe. However, it is best to wash your hands properly after opening any package, irrespective of where it’s come from. And discard the packaging safely.
8. Is it possible for my pet to infect me?
According to the WHO, there has been a single instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong. But there’s no hard evidence of pets like cats and dogs spreading the virus. But you must still wash your hands after playing with or feeding your pet.