WHAT IS COVID 19 ?

COVID 19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-COV-2. WHO first learned of this new virus on 31 December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 ?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue

Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include:

  • Loss of taste or smell,
  • Nasal congestion,
  • Conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes)
  • Sore throat,
  • Headache,
  • Muscle or joint pain,
  • Different types of skin rash,
  • Nausea or vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Chills or dizziness.

Symptoms of severe COVID‐19 disease include:

  • Shortness of breath,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Confusion,
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest,
  • High temperature (above 38 °C).

Other less common symptoms are:

  • Irritability,
  • Confusion,
  • Reduced consciousness (sometimes associated with seizures),
  • Anxiety,
  • Depression,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • More severe and rare neurological complications such as strokes, brain inflammation, delirium and nerve damage.

People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated with difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical care immediately. If possible, call your health care provider, hotline or health facility first, so you can be directed to the right clinic.

WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO GET COVID-19 ?

Among those who develop symptoms, most (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. About 15% become seriously ill and require oxygen and 5% become critically ill and need intensive care.

Complications leading to death may include respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock, thromboembolism, and/or multiorgan failure, including injury of the heart, liver or kidneys.

In rare situations, children can develop a severe inflammatory syndrome a few weeks after infection. 

WHO IS MOST AT RISK OF SEVERE ILLNESS FROM COVID-19 ?

People aged 60 years and over, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness. 

However, anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age. 

ARE THERE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ?

Some people who have had COVID-19, whether they have needed hospitalization or not, continue to experience symptoms, including fatigue, respiratory and neurological symptoms.

WHO is working with our Global Technical Network for Clinical Management of COVID-19, researchers and patient groups around the world to design and carry out studies of patients beyond the initial acute course of illness to understand the proportion of patients who have long term effects, how long they persist, and why they occur.  These studies will be used to develop further guidance for patient care.  

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE ?

Both isolation and quarantine are methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Quarantine is used for anyone who is a contact of someone infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, whether the infected person has symptoms or not. Quarantine means that you remain separated from others because you have been exposed to the virus and you may be infected and can take place in a designated facility or at home. For COVID-19, this means staying in the facility or at home for 14 days.

Isolation is used for people with COVID-19 symptoms or who have tested positive for the virus. Being in isolation means being separated from other people, ideally in a medically facility where you can receive clinical care.  If isolation in a medical facility is not possible and you are not in a high risk group of developing severe disease, isolation can take place at home. If you have symptoms, you should remain in isolation for at least 10 days plus an additional 3 days without symptoms. If you are infected and do not develop symptoms, you should remain in isolation for 10 days from the time you test positive. 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WHO HAS COVID-19 ?

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you may become infected, even if you feel well.

After exposure to someone who has COVID-19, do the following:

  • Call your health care provider or COVID-19 hotline to find out where and when to get a test.
  • Cooperate with contact-tracing procedures to stop the spread of the virus.
  • If testing is not available, stay home and away from others for 14 days.
  • While you are in quarantine, do not go to work, to school or to public places. Ask someone to bring you supplies.
  • Keep at least a 1-metre distance from others, even from your family members.
  • Wear a medical mask to protect others, including if/when you need to seek medical care.
  • Clean your hands frequently.
  • Stay in a separate room from other family members, and if not possible, wear a medical mask.
  • Keep the room well-ventilated.
  • If you share a room, place beds at least 1 meter apart.
  • Monitor yourself for any symptoms for 14 days. 
  • Stay positive by keeping in touch with loved ones by phone or online, and by exercising at home.

CAN COVID-19 BE PASSED THROUGH BREASTFEEDING ?

Transmission of active COVID-19 (virus that can cause infection) through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to this date. There is no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeding.

DO WEATHER AND CLIMATE DETERMINE WHERE COVID-19 OCCURS ?

No, There is currently no conclusive evidence that either weather (short term variations in meteorological conditions) or climate (long-term averages) have a strong influence on transmission. The SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 disease has been transmitted in all regions of the world, from cold and dry, to hot and humid climates.

SARS-CoV-2 is thought to be mainly transmitted directly from person-to-person through close contact, or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People may be a major transmission route. While temperature and humidity may influence how long the virus survives outside of the human body, this effect is likely to be small compared to the degree of contact between people.

Physical distancing and washing hands are therefore essential to breaking the chain of transmission, and are the most effective way to protect yourself, in all locations and all seasons of the years.

CAN I GET COVID-19 FROM EATING FRESH FOODS, LIKE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES?

There is currently no evidence that people can catch COVID-19 from food including fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet and their consumption should be encouraged.