What is real and what is fake about Covid-19
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 (COrona VIrus Disease – 2019) is a new viral disease caused by the novel Coronavirus. It was first discovered in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China, and has now spread to every country across the world.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are known to cause a number of different respiratory (lung) diseases in humans and animals. They are responsible for the common cold, but can also cause SARS (Sudden Onset Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) and the most recent COVID-19.
The virus called SARS-CoV-2 causes the disease COVID-19. In the news you may
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, and the symptoms are similar to the flu or common cold. The most common symptoms are fever, dry cough, feeling tired and shortness of breath. There are many other symptoms that have been found in COVID-19 patients that are less common. These include aches and pains, stuffy nose or runny nose, productive cough or diarrhoea.
The majority of people who are infected with coronavirus will experience very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Only a small number of people will have serious symptoms requiring hospitalisation. Older people, and those with certain medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, taking certain medications) are at greater risk of serious symptoms.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is spread from person to person, attached to small droplets in the air. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets containing the virus exit the lung and spread in the air. This can be breathed in by nearby people, entering their lungs. Here the virus enters the person’s cells and begins to multiply, causing damage in the process.
These droplets can also land on surfaces around the infected person, such as clothes, door handles and more. If a person touches these surfaces with their hands they can pick up the coronavirus. Touching their face, eyes, nose or mouth can then lead to infection.
To prevent this you need to
- Stay at least 2m away from other people
- Wash your hands regularly
- Don’t touch your face
- If you need to cough and sneeze, do so into a tissue or the crook of your arm. Wash your hands afterwards
Many people will not experience COVID-19 symptoms. But they can still spread the infection to others by coughing and sneezing openly, and not washing their hands. They can spread the infection to vulnerable people who can fall seriously ill or even die from COVID. This is why it is so important to follow public health guidelines.
Can I catch COVID-19 from pets or other animals?
Coronaviruses are a group of diseases that can spread in animals as well as humans. Right now there is very limited evidence on whether animals can infect humans, or humans animals. You may have read some extraordinary stories of people infecting their pets at home. But these cases are rare worldwide. For now we would recommend avoiding contact with wild animals or animals at markets. There is no evidence that suggests your pets will give you COVID-19.
Does coronavirus survive on surfaces?
Evidence suggests that coronavirus can survive on surfaces for at least a few days. This is dependent on the surface type (metal, cardboard, fabric), temperature and humidity of the environment. To be safe, you should regularly wash your hands if in public, with soap and water or alcohol based hand gel. If you think a surface may be infected or someone may have coughed on it, clean it with disinfectant.
How can I protect myself?
It is important to protect yourself, even if you think you won’t get the disease, or if you think you won’t get ill. If you catch the virus, even without symptoms, you can still spread it to others, and they may not be able to survive the infection.
To reduce the risk of getting COVID you should follow public health advice.
Stay inside if you can. Don’t leave the house unless its essential. The less time you’re outside, the less likely you are to breathe in the virus or touch infected surfaces. So the chance of getting the virus is less.
Stay 2 metres away from others. When a person coughs or sneeze’s the droplets can spray quite far away and can stay in the air. Keeping your distance will reduce the risk of breathing in the infected droplets and infecting yourself.
Wash your hands regularly. By doing this you are destroying any virus that you might have picked up accidentally. To destroy the virus you should use soap and water, or alcohol based gels. You do not need to use anything stronger, such as bleach.
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. If you have the virus on your hands you might accidentally infect yourself. The virus can enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth, and this can lead to an infection.
If you need to cough or sneeze, do this into a tissue or the crook of your elbow. Do not sneeze into your hands. Bin the tissue afterwards, and wash your hands.
If you feel like you may have symptoms of COVID, stay at home. Symptoms include a new onset dry cough, fever above 37.8C, feeling very tired, and usually last 7-14 days. Leaving the house is irresponsible as you can infect other people, and spread the disease. If you are worried about your symptoms you can talk to your doctor, or read about COVID symptoms on our site.
If you are finding it difficult to breathe, breathing very quickly or feeling out of breath even when sitting down, contact your doctor urgently, or visit your Emergency Department.
Do I need a mask?
Many countries are now advising you should wear a mask, and we agree with this. A mask will not prevent you from getting COVID, but it will reduce the risk. A mask can filter out the droplets in the air when you breathe in. It also stops the droplets you make when you cough or sneeze, which can prevent the spread of an infection you might be carrying. You can make a surgical mask out of material you have at home. We will be putting up a guide on how to make a mask on our website.
Do not buy surgical masks or N95 respirators. There is currently a global shortage of these masks, and medical professionals need these masks to protect themselves. These professionals are treating COVID patients on a daily basis, and are at high risk of catching COVID. This risk increases if they do not have the right masks. Many doctors and nurses have already died from COVID because they did not have enough protective equipment. Without these medical professionals hospitals will not be able to treat ill patients.
Should I isolate myself or my family?
We would advise that people remain at home where possible, and only leave the house to buy essential groceries and food, to go to work if you cannot work from home, or to buy food for vulnerable people who cannot leave their house (elderly, those at high risk of dying from COVID).
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you should self isolate for 7-14 days at home, and not leave the house. If possible you should ask friends or family not in the house to buy any essential food and groceries. If you live with other people they should also stay at home, as it is likely they are infected as well. Only leave the house if you need to go to hospital because your symptoms are severe and you need to see a doctor.
After you have had symptoms of COVID-19, you should still follow this advice. Your symptoms may have been due to other viruses, such as the flu or common cold, and without a confirmed positive swab we can only guess you have had COVID-19. Even with confirmed COVID, you may catch the virus again and spread it, even if you don’t get symptoms again. During this pandemic it is better to be safe than cause harm.
How can COVID-19 be treated?
There is currently no cure for COVID-19. In hospital doctors will offer supportive therapy, by giving fluids, oxygen and medication such as paracetamol for symptom control. If you are struggling to breathe they might use machines such as ventilators to help you breathe.
Antibiotics cannot treat viruses, and they will not help treat COVID-19. In people with severe COVID-19 who are in hospital or on ventilators, a doctor might give antibiotics. This is because people in hospital and on ventilators are at high risk of catching a second bacterial lung infection. If you have mild symptoms, antibiotics can instead cause side effects such as diarrhoea, and cause resistance to the drug.
You may have heard of some medications in the news that can help treat COVID-19. Two such medications include chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Clinical trials have shown these drugs to have no effect on treating COVID. In fact they can be dangerous, causing serious heart problems, risk of becoming blind or even death.
There is no vaccine for COVID, but many are in development. We expect these vaccines to stay in development for many more months, and an approved vaccine may be available by next year.
There are many theories that have been spread on social media. Many of these are dangerous with no evidence to support them. Do not take any treatment or medication unless your doctor recommends it.
I read a new theory about COVID-19 on Facebook/WhatsApp/social media. Is it true?
Most of the theories, stories and treatments spread on social media are false, useless or even dangerous. Do not believe everything you hear on social media. Many of these stories have been made up, without any proof, and promote theories that are too good to be true.
We have gone through many stories that we have found as WhatsApp forwards and shown them to be false. You can find them on our blogs: https://www.secondmedic.com/p/blog
If you have read a story that you want to be fact checked, email us at [email protected]. We will have a look at the story and get back to you with advice. Our analysis will be based on evidence and scientific advice.
I want to learn more about COVID-19
Dr Rajan Choudhary, UK, Chief Product Officer, Second Medic Inc
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