Coronavirus Q&A

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 What is a novel coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus is also known as 2019-nCoV. It first appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. It is a new strain of coronavirus that has not affected humans in the past. Very little information is available about this virus, and health experts are closely monitoring the situation. 

Q.2 How dangerous is it?

It causes respiratory illnesses. People infected with 2019-nCoV can experience symptoms that include a runny nose, cough, fever, and sore throat. It can also have some severe effects like breathing difficulties and pneumonia. This virus can also prove to be fatal in some cases. People who have pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are more vulnerable to the extreme effects of this virus.

Q.3 How does this virus spread?

2019-nCoV is spreading from person to person. It spreads primarily through respiratory droplets, which spreads when someone sneezes or chough. People within a radius of 6 feet of a contagious person when they sneeze or cough are susceptible to come in contact with these droplets and become infected.

Q.4 How long does it take for the symptoms of this virus to appear?

It usually takes between 2 to 14 days after exposure to the 2019-nCoV for symptoms to appear. These symptoms can range from mild illnesses to severe problems that require immediate hospitalization.

Q.5 What is the source of this virus?

2019-nCoV belongs to the family of viruses that circulate among animals like cats, camels, and bats. Genetic analysis of this virus indicates that it might have originated in bats. Still, it is unclear whether it jumped directly from bets to humans or were there any intermediately animal hosts.

Q.6 Who can catch this virus?

People traveling or living in an area where the 2019-nCoV is circulating are at a higher risk of getting infected. Presently China is the epicenter of this viral outbreak as the majority of people reported to have gotten infected with this virus are from China. 

Those who got infected from other countries are the people who have recently traveled from China or were in contact with people visiting China. 

Q.7 Can a person quarantined for this virus spread the illness to others?

Quarantine means separating a person who has been exposed to a contagious disease from the rest to avoid the risk of spreading the illness. The quarantine period usually lasts the duration it took a person from getting infected to show the symptoms of the disease.

The quarantine period of 2019-nCoV is 14 days. People released from the quarantine after 14 days do not pose a risk of spreading this virus to others.

Q.8 How can I help protect myself?

You can take some small steps to ensure that you will not get infected with 2019-nCoV.

  • Wash your hand with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. One can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Washing the hands eliminates the virus if it is present on your hands.
  • Do not touch your nose, eyes, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing. It prevents the spreading of the disease.
  • Stay at home if you are feeling sick.
  • Disinfect and clean the objects and surfaces that you frequently touch.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people. Maintain at least 3 feet distance from the infected person.
  • If you have recently visited China and experience fever, cough, or difficulty in breathing, then you should seek immediate medical care.
  • Avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products. 

Q.9 How long does the virus survive on the surface?

The exact duration for which 2019-nCoV stays alive on surfaces is not known. Preliminary information suggests that it might survive for a few hours. You can kill the virus by simple disinfectants, making it impossible for the virus to infect someone.

Q.10 Are antibiotics useful in the prevention and treatment of this virus?

Antibiotics do not work on 2019-nCoV, as antibiotics work on bacterial infections. 2019-nCoV is not a bacteria; it is a virus that belongs to the novel coronavirus family. If you feel any symptoms tied to this virus, then you should not take antibiotics and immediately pay a visit to a healthcare professional. 

Q.11 What is the difference between the flu and Novel coronavirus?

The symptoms of flu and 2019-nCoV are mostly the same. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are at least 19 million flu illnesses reported this flu season. There have been at least 180,000 hospitalizations and around 10,000 deaths in the US due to flu-related diseases.

The significant difference between the flu and Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is that you can get a vaccine shot for the flu, but no such vaccine is available for 2019-nCoV yet. 

Q.12 Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?

As of now, there is no vaccine available for the treatment of 2019-nCoV.

Q.13 Can a face mask help protect me from this virus?

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has not recommended using a face mask for the people who have not got infected. One should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it.

People who have caught 2019-nCoV should wear a face mask to protect others around them. The use of face masks is also essential for healthcare workers and people who are taking care of infected people in health care facilities or at home.

Q.14 Should I be tested for coronavirus?

If you experience symptoms of respiratory illness like a cough or trouble breathing and developed a fever within 14 days from traveling from China, then you should contact a doctor and let them know about your symptoms.

If you came in contact with someone who was showing these symptoms and had recently traveled from China, then also you should let a healthcare professional know. The doctor will work with the CDC and the state’s public health department to conclude whether to test you for 2019-nCoV.

WHO guidelines on Coronavirus

Q.15 Is there anyone infected with coronavirus in the United States?

The first instance of 2019-nCoV appeared on 21st January 2020 in the United States. On 30th January 2020, the first confirmed instance of person to person transfer of this virus appeared in the United States.

Q.16 Can I get this virus from animals or animal products imported from China?

There is no evidence yet to suggest that the products or animals coming from China pose a risk for spreading 2019-nCoV in the United States. Though there is no apparent risk of spreading this disease, one should take caution and keep themselves up to date with the latest information that is coming.

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