What is a coronavirus/ Novel coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new respiratory virus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  • Coronavirus infects lower respiratory tract of human beings;
  • Spreads via respiratory droplets (sneeze/cough/salivary droplets/sputum/nasal discharge)
  • Spread through close contact with infected people

When will you suspect that you are infected with coronavirus?

Within the last 14 days, if you have-
– Travelled to China or any other affected countries with local transmission, or
– Come in contact with a COVID-19 infected person And, if you experience any sign-symptoms like-
– fever (≥ 100°F),
– sore throat,
– cough,
– difficulty in breathing

Please go to the nearest government health facility:
– If you become sick
– To keep your family members safe, please stay in an isolated room and wear a mask all the time
– DO NOT go outside unless it is absolutely necessary
– Maintain a distance of 1 meter (3 feet) from healthy persons
– Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer

Can the COVID-19 be transmitted from person to person?

Yes, the COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person.
The new coronavirus spreads primarily through contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when a person, for example, cough or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

How can you keep yourself safe?

– Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer
– Maintain cough etiquette. When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
– Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth as far as possible
– Avoid close contact with healthy person if you have respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, breathing difficulty
– Human to human transmission has been confirmed; anyone travelling to an outbreak area can be infected by it. Therefore, avoid all non-essential travels to China or any other affected country.
If you experience any sign-symptoms like fever (≥ 100°F), sore throat, cough, difficulty in breathing and if you have a history of travelling to China or any other affected countries, or came in contact with a coronavirus infected persons, please go to the nearest government health facility. Be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.

How long is the incubation period?

The incubation period of 2019-nCoV is 2-14 days.

How long does the virus survive outside human body?

Preliminary information suggests the virus may survive a few hours outside human body. Simple disinfectants or washing hands with soap water or hand sanitizer can kill the virus making it no longer possible to infect people.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat COVID-19?

Those infected with COVID-19 should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus. Some specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate efforts to develop medicines to treat COVID-19 with a range of partners.

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

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. The novel coronavirus is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for the COVID-19, you may receive antibiotics since bacterial co-infection is possible.

What is quarantine? What is isolation? What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

Difference: By ‘Quarantine’ apparently healthy people, who were exposed to a contagious disease, are kept separated and their movements are restricted. By ‘Isolation’ people sick with a contagious disease are separated from healthy people.
By ‘Quarantine’, separated apparently healthy people are observed to see if they become sick. By ‘Isolation’, sick people are kept separated so that healthy people do not get infected from the sick.

Read on facts vs myths related to the outbreak here: WHO guidelines
Read of frequently asked questions here: WHO Q&A on coronavirus


Awareness resources

What is Coronavirus?

Symptoms of Coronavirus

Steps of effective handwashing

Practice of social distancing

How to self quarantine