Frequently Asked Questions
Offices and factories have shut down. Hospitals are scrambling for equipment and beds. With many people required to stay at home, people working in grocery stores and retail shops are now essential workers.
The crisis has injected uncertainty into what used to be mundane tasks for many people: Is that doorknob safe to touch? Can I go to the gym or do my laundry? Can I hug my grandparents?
We know you have questions about staying healthy, about what to do if you’ve lost your job, what has happened to your retirement investments and which businesses are still open and why.
Below are some of the most common questions and answers on health, life, politics, travel & money.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses refer to a type of virus which may lead to illness. They often cause respiratory infections such as the common cold and flu and in more severe cases, SARS and MERS. COVID-19 is the most recent disease caused by a coronavirus.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease caused by a type of coronavirus. This new virus was recently discovered in Wuhan, China, in 2019.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms mimic flu-like symptoms which may include a high fever, body aches and pains, chest pains, difficulty breathing, dry cough, shortness of breath and loss of taste and smell. People with underlying medical conditions may experience more severe symptoms.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus may spread from direct contact of droplets of infected persons. Usually, when a person coughs or sneezes. Touching your membranes with contaminated hands can cause infection.
Is the virus airborne?
Studies indicate the virus is mainly spread through contact of infected droplets; there is still debate on whether the disease is airborne.
Can an asymptomatic person spread the disease?
There is a mild risk of catching the virus from an asymptomatic person unless you are in direct contact with droplets expelled from sneezing and coughing.
Can I catch COVID-19 from the faeces of an infected person?
Studies show that the risk of contraction from faeces is low. Very little is known about the virus, and studies are still being conducted.
Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
Studies have shown that the most likely candidates to develop severe illness, are those with pre-existing conditions and older people.
Are antibiotics useful in treating COVID-19?
No, antibiotics work at treating bacterial infections rather than viruses. Also, antibiotics are not effective in the prevention of the disease.
Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
No, currently there is no known cure for the treatment COVID-19. Symptoms are treated independently. Maintaining a distance and good hygiene practise has proved to be the most effective in preventing the disease.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
At first, it was recommended that people who display no symptoms of the virus need not wear a mask. However, in recent times WHO suggested that all people should wear a mask in public spaces. With some governments making it compulsory as a precautionary measure.
How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?
The incubation period can range anything from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. Mandatory quarantine or self-isolation of 14 days is usually required to assess for developing symptoms.
How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
Some studies suggest that the virus may stay active for a couple of hours and even up to several days on surfaces. This may be dependent on the type of surface as well as the temperature.
Can You get the virus from drinking water?
There have been no confirmed studies that confirm infection from drinking water. Usually, drinking water undergoes a filtration and disinfection process to make it safe for consumption.
Can the virus be spread through swimming pools and hot tubs?
Again, there’s been no evidence that one can catch the disease from swimming pools and hot tubs. Chlorine is often used in the purification and cleaning of the water which would make viruses inactive.
Can I get coronavirus from my pets?
In recent studies, there have been some records of cats being infected. However, the risk of spreading the virus from pets to humans is considered very low.
Can I infect my pets?
Studies show there is a possibility of humans spreading the virus to their pets. Recommendations made include self-isolating from your pets if you infected with COVID-19.
Are Symptoms different in Children?
No, symptoms vary from person-to-person; however, there is no indication that children experience different symptoms to adults. However, studies indicate that children may have less severe symptoms.
Should I use soap water or hand sanitizer?
Experts recommend washing your hands for at least 20 seconds as the best practice for COVID-19. A sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol is recommended when no soap water is readily available.
What cleaning products should I use?
Use soapy water and a disinfectant to clean surfaces from possible contamination; this includes tables, doorknobs and countertops.
Is it possible to get flu and COVID-19 at the same time
Yes. In some instance, you could test positive for COVID-19, while testing positive for the influenza virus and other respiratory infections.
Can someone test negative then later test positive?
Yes, in some cases, people may have a negative result when tested too early in the infection, and later test positive as the disease develops.
What are the COVID-19 tests?
A viral test used to determine the presence of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infection.
What is an antibody test?
Several countries have initiated antibody tests, along with testing for possible infection. The antibody test does not determine whether you have the virus but merely looks at blood samples to check for antibodies which may indicate a previous infection of the virus.
If I’ve had COVID-19, will I become immune?
The virus is still relatively new and little is known about possible immunity from the infection.