COVID-19 Coronavirus Guide – FAQ, Data, Helplines, Resources and More

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The world is dealing with one of the worst pandemics in a very long time. COVID-19 coronavirus has affected people worldwide and we can only hope that the world gets back up on its feet soon. While doctors, nurses and others in essential services work tirelessly on the frontline, we can also do our bit in fighting this pandemic by increasing awareness and following what the health authorities advise.

Here are the top questions about COVID-19 Coronavirus that the posts addresses and shares top resources on:

1.What is COVID-19 Coronavirus disease?
2. What are the COVID-19 Coronavirus symptoms?
3. What is the COVID-19 Coronavirus treatment?
4. What is COVID-19 Coronavirus prevention?
5. What’s the state of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic?
6. When will the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic end?
7. Who do I contact if I think I have COVID-19 Coronavirus? List of COVID-19 Coronavirus helplines and guides by countries.
8. What is social distancing and how to practise it?
9. How long does COVID-19 Coronavirus last on surfaces?
10. Why is COVID-19 Coronavirus spreading so fast?
11. What is the progress on the vaccine for COVID-19 Coronavirus?
12. Should I wear a mask to prevent COVID-19 Coronavirus?
13. Will warm weather kill COVID-19 Coronavirus?
14. How long is a COVID-19 infected person infectious after contracting the virus?
15. How can I help the frontline defences for COVID-19 Coronavirus? Donations, Volunteer efforts, Contributions

1. What is COVID-19 Coronavirus disease?

 

COVID-19 disease is an infectious disease caused by a newly encountered coronavirus. Coronaviruses belong to a large family of viruses that have been known to cause illness in humans and animals. Diseases like SARS, MERS and even common cold, which are mostly respiratory infections, are caused by viruses belonging to this family.

According to scientists, this new strain of coronavirus appears to be a product of natural evolution. Researchers suggest that the virus may have evolved into the current pathogenic state in a non-human host, most likely bats, and then jumped to humans. But since no direct bat to human transmission cases have been registered, there could be an intermediate host as well. Another scenario they suggest says that a non-pathogenic form of the virus jumped from animals to humans and evolved to its current form in the human body itself.

Most people infected with COVID-19 coronavirus experience some respiratory illness, which may be mild or moderate, and may recover in a short time without needing special medical attention. In some severe cases though (around 20%) , patients show acute symptoms and may suffer from pneumonia and multiple organ failure which may prove to be fatal. The severity of the illness seems to be related to age and overall health of a person, as the death rate is higher in people above 50 years of age and those having some underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension or immune deficiency.

2. What are the COVID-19 Coronavirus symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus may vary from person to person. But there are a few common symptoms of the disease which most people have suffered from. There are also a few symptoms which are not common to all but have been experienced by a small percentage of those infected.

Here are the known symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus infection:

  • Fever (most common)
  • Dry cough (most common)
  • Fatigue (most common)
  • Sputum production (most common)
  • Shortness of breath (common)
  • Loss of smell (common)
  • Muscle or joint pain (common)
  • Headache (infrequent)
  • Sore throat (infrequent)
  • Chills (infrequent)
  • Nasal congestion (rare)
  • Nausea and vomiting (rare)
  • Diarrhea (rare)
  • Coughing up of blood (rare)

A majority of the people infected recover from the disease without needing intensive care though. But in some cases the disease may turn severe, leading to pneumonia and multi-organ failure. Such patients are usually put on mechanical ventilators and in extreme cases the disease may prove fatal.

Some people may be completely asymptomatic despite being infected with COVID-19. Such people experience no discomfort and do not develop any symptoms, but can still be carriers of the virus. Generally, it may take between 3 days to 2 weeks for symptoms to show after a person is infected.

3. What is the COVID-19 Coronavirus treatment?

As of date, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 coronavirus. Possible vaccines and drugs for treating the disease are being researched and tested. However, there is still a long time to go before we have a widely accepted and approved treatment or prevention strategy. For the scientifically inclined – here are some R&D updates by WHO – 1 & 2.

Most patients with infection are recovering by themselves in isolation. In patients with severe respiratory distress, the existing respiratory therapies are being used to maximize oxygen delivery and reduce fatalities.

The WHO has advised people to not resort to self-medication in case they are showing symptoms of COVID-19. If you have a cough or fever, it is recommended to consult a doctor first or call COVID-19 helplines.

4. What is COVID-19 Coronavirus prevention?

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus is by isolating people and maintaining a social distance. The WHO recommends doing the following to protect yourself from the coronavirus.

Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer to thoroughly clean your hands.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.

Maintain at least 1 meter distance with people when you are out in public places, particularly if someone appears to have cold or cough.
Follow good respiratory hygiene such as covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.
Stay at home if you feel unwell with fever, cough or difficulty breathing and consult your local health authorities.

Avoid travelling to places and keep yourself updated about the recent news on COVID-19, so that you know where the disease is spreading widely.

5. What’s the state of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic?

The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan in China around December 2019. The first cases of the disease outside of China were detected in Thailand and Japan in January. Since then, the pandemic has spread throughout the globe impacting almost all major nations. Among the worst hit countries are Italy, Spain, Iran, France and the United States. Apart from these countries, other countries too have been impacted albeit with a lesser number of confirmed cases but the numbers are constantly changing. Here are two good sources of data and charts on the current pandemic state (cases, deaths and more) – OurWorldinData and WHO.

6. When will the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic end?

It is difficult to say when the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will end. There are a lot of factors involved here. Vaccination is required to make people immune to the virus and as of now a COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccine is still quite far from being approved, though clinical trials are going on. Another way the effect of the virus can slowly wear down is when a population attains herd immunity. This means that a large portion of the population becomes immune to the virus and are unlikely to transmit the disease, thus disrupting the chain of infection. But again, you can’t tell how long it would take to develop herd immunity. Also, many times with viral infections, the virus strain itself gradually becomes weaker and stops affecting human health.

So, there are a lot of possibilities and it’s difficult to predict how the pandemic will end. Researchers are also trying to study how the mitigation measures taken by the governments of different countries influence the course of this pandemic.

7. Who do I contact if I think I have COVID-19 Coronavirus? List of COVID-19 Coronavirus helplines and guides by countries.

All countries are equipping themselves to deal with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, reach out to your local health authorities. Here is a list of helplines and guides you can refer for more information on COVID-19 in your country.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Helplines:

USA COVID-19 helplines, State Wise List – 1 and 2
European Union COVID-19 helplines, Country wise list – ECDC
France COVID-19 helpline – 0 800 130 000
India COVID-19 helplines – +91-11-23978046
UK COVID-19 helpline
Australia COVID-19 helpline – 1800 020 080
New Zealand COVID-19 helpline – 0800 358 5453

COVID-19 Coronavirus Guides:

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic
United States of America – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
European Union – European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
France – Official website of the French Government
United Kingdom – National Health Service
Australia – Australian Government Department of Health
New Zealand – New Zealand Government
India – MyGov
Sweden – Public Health Agency of Sweden
Japan – Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
Philippines – Department of Health
Canada – Government of Canada
Belgium – FPS Public Health

8. What is social distancing and how to practise it?


Social distancing refers to a set of infection control actions that are intended to stop, or at least slow down, the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. The purpose here is to reduce the chances of contact between people carrying the infection and others who have not been infected yet. This can reduce the disease transmission. Social distancing is particularly effective in preventing the spread of diseases that are transmitted through droplets or direct physical contact.

To practise social distancing, all you have to do is minimise your movement and stay at home as far as possible. Avoid mass gatherings, crowded public places, public transport and recreational facilities like swimming pools and gyms. You should also avoid any form of physical contact with others as long as you can. Don’t shake hands or touch surfaces that many people may have touched before you, such as railings, door knobs, lift buttons for example. Another preventive measure recommended by the WHO is to maintain at least 1 meter (approximately 3 feet) gap between yourself and anyone else when you are outside.

9. How long does COVID-19 Coronavirus last on surfaces?

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, they found that the virus can still be detected on copper for up to 4 hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and steel for up to 72 hours, although the virus titer showed an exponential decay over time on all of these surfaces. So the risk of infections from touching these surfaces was also reduced. This is why disinfecting frequently touched surfaces is considered to be key in preventing the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

10. Why is COVID-19 Coronavirus spreading so fast?

In viral infections, the speed at which the infection can spread depends on a factor called the basic reproduction number, R0. That is the number of people who can contract the infection from one who is already infected. In case of the novel coronavirus, the R0 value has a range of 2 to 2.25, which means that one infected person can spread the infection to 2.25 more people. If the chain of infections is not disrupted the number of infections goes on increasing exponentially. That is how the COVID-19 infection spread so rapidly in this connected world – through travel and social contact.

Another reason why COVID-19 coronavirus is spreading so quickly is because many of the people infected do not show symptoms of disease for about 3-14 days (incubation period). Some others show no symptoms at all.This is known as asymptomatic , or pre-symptomatic transmission. Which means that even if someone around you is not coughing or sneezing or has a fever, they may still be carrying the virus and infecting others unknowingly.

11. What is the progress on the vaccine for COVID-19 Coronavirus?

Most of the vaccines for COVID-19 coronavirus are still in the preclinical stage (here are lists of vaccines and drugs under development – 1, 2, 3). There is still a considerable amount of time before a vaccine can actually be approved and recommended for the public. Most vaccinologists believe that it would take at least 18 months for the COVID-19 vaccine to be ready.

12. Should I wear a mask to prevent COVID-19 Coronavirus?

Masks can help you avoid coming in contact with droplets from infected individuals. The primary mode of transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus is through droplets. Many countries like Italy and Czech Republic have made wearing a face mask mandatory when going out.

WHO, however, recommends masks only for patients suffering from COVID-19 and those who are caregivers to such patients. Unless you are infected, by buying a mask you will only be using up resources unnecessarily, as it does not really protect you from infection. There is a worldwide shortage of masks right now and it is best to leave them for people who actually need them.

The efficacy of masks in protecting a healthy individual against a viral infection is still under a lot of speculation. But wearing a mask may be safer than going out without one.

13. Will warm weather kill COVID-19 Coronavirus?

It was initially speculated that with the advent of spring, as the temperatures rise, the COVID-19 coronavirus will die down. But there is no scientific evidence backing this claim and so experts have warned people not to rely on this information. In fact, as seen at present, the temperatures in many countries have already risen quite a bit but the infections continue to spread. The novel coronavirus is still very new to researchers and whether it shows any seasonal changes is still not known. So, it would be best not to lower your guards as the temperatures soar.

14. How long is a COVID-19 infected person infectious after contracting the virus?

The incubation period of the novel coronavirus is between 3-14 days. So even if a person does not show any symptoms, they may still be infectious for 14 days if they are infected with the coronavirus. Usually a person who has recovered from COVID-19 coronavirus is not highly infectious. A study shows that recovering patients with mild symptoms become low risk after 10 days since they first fell ill. While another study suggests that a recovered patient may still carry the virus till 2 weeks after recovery. But as symptoms die down, the patient is no longer coughing or sneezing and is less likely to spread the infection.

15. How can I help the frontline defences for COVID-19 Coronavirus? Donations, Volunteer efforts, Contributions

The first and most important thing that we can do to help frontline workers contain the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is by staying indoors and continuing social distancing. This is extremely important to reduce the spread of the infection.

Apart from this, if you are willing to make a contribution in the form of donations or volunteer for frontline work, here are a few sites you can refer to:

WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund
UN Volunteers
USA – Several efforts
Canada – COVID-19 volunteering
Ireland – Volunteer Ireland
Australia – Volunteering Australia
American Red Cross
Red Cross Italy
India – Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund

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