The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

What do we know so far…


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.

What is a COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

• Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.

• These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms.


• 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.

Who are at risk of developing serious illness?

Older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

What is the incubation period of 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.

How does COVID-19 spread?

• People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus.

• 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.

• The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low.

• Research on the ways and period of transmission of COVID-19 is still ongoing.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

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).

What can be done to protect ourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19?

• Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

• Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

• Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

• Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority..

• Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

• 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 places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.


How likely are we to catch the disease?

• The risk depends on where we are, and more specifically, whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there.

• For most people in most locations the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low.

• However, there are now places around the world (cities or areas) where the disease is spreading.

• For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher.

Is it possible to catch infection from pets?

No. There is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?

• NO. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections.

• COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work.

• Antibiotics should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?

• Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019.

• However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

• People with serious illness should be hospitalised. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

• Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.

Should we wear mask to protect ourself?

Mask should only be worn if someone is ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19.

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask?

1. Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water

2. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.

3. Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip is).

4. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the coloured side).

5. Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it moulds to the shape of your nose.

6. Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin.

7. After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.

8. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use.

9. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – Use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.

Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes. 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.

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Stay updated: Present situation

Globally (5 march 2020)

95 333 confirmed (2241 new)

China (5 march 2020)

80 565 confirmed (143 new)
3015 deaths (31 new)

Outside of China (5 march 2020)

14 768 confirmed (2098 new)
85 Countries/territories/areas (5 new)
267 deaths (53 new)

India (8 march 2020)

42 confirmed
No deaths so far

PS: The information and guidelines provided in this article are strictly based on present guidelines provided by WHO, CDC and Ministry of health, India. Research and data collection is still ongoing all over the world.

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