I. What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

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

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses; they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection. 

III. Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.

IV. Can I catch COVID-19 from the faeces of someone with the disease?

The risk of catching COVID-19 from the faeces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest that the virus may be present in faeces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. The ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 spreads and will continue to share new findings.

V. Is COVID-19 the same as SARS?

No. The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that caused the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related to each other genetically. Still, the diseases they cause are quite different. SARS was more deadly but much less infectious than COVID-19. There have been no outbreaks of SARS anywhere in the world since 2003.

VI. Should I wear a mask to protect myself?

Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. A disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is sick, then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, people are recommended to use masks wisely. Rational use of medical masks is recommended to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks. The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.

VII. How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?

The incubation period means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 2-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

VIII. Can humans become infected with the COVID-19 from an animal source?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in animals. Occasionally, people get infected with these viruses, which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats, and MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed.

IX. Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.

X. Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

XI. How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not sure how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

XII. What temperature kills the virus?

Generally, coronaviruses survive for shorter periods at higher temperatures and higher humidity than in cooler or dryer environments. However, there is neither direct data for this virus, nor direct data for a temperature-based cutoff for inactivation at this point. The necessary temperature would also be based on the materials of the surface, the environment, etc.

XIII. How can people help stop stigma related to COVID-19?

People can fight stigma and help, not hurt, others by providing social support. Counter stigma by learning and sharing facts. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 spreads can help stop the stigma.

XIV. What are the essential steps you can do to prevent acquiring or spreading infection?

  1. Social distancing – Very important
    1. Avoid contact with someone who shows symptoms of possible COVID-19 - anyone having a cold or cough or fever.
    2. Avoid non-essential travel and use of public transport.
    3. Avoid public places, crowds, and large family get together. Keep in touch with friends and relatives using the phone, internet, and social media.
    4. Avoid routine visits to hospitals/Labs. For minor problems, contact hospital or clinic by phone or helpline number if possible. If you are regularly adjusting blood-thinning medicines, please contact the doctor over the phone if possible and try and avoid a hospital as much as possible.

 2. Hand hygiene

  1. Avoid handshakes and touching face with hands
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently – do this for at least 20-30 seconds and systematically to clean all parts of the hand
  3. Alcohol-based handsanitizers are also useful.
  4. Avoid touching possibly contaminated areas/objects – Public toilet doors, door handles etc.

XV. How effective do you think are the lockdown measures in India in arresting the spread? Is it too late already, since the mass gatherings continued in India during the first half of March?

No, it is not too late. It is never too late for any measure to prevent infection because every little bit helps slow the spread. Remember, medical professionals are not trying to eliminate the disease as they do not have the tools for that yet. They just want to slow down spread so that when the small percentage of people infected who have the severe disease (about 1 in 8 for any hospital care and 1 in 20 for critical care) need a hospital and healthcare staff available to treat them; then they are available.

XVI. What should I do if I get symptoms suggestive of COVID-19?

In case you get fever, cough, muscle pain without shortness of breath, call your doctor and seek advice on the phone. You need to stay at home (at least for 14 days) and avoid close contact with other family members and maintain hand hygiene and correctly wear a medical mask. If there is shortness of breath or worsening symptoms like excessive fatigue, call or visit a doctor. But, in the end, it's all about prevention rather than cure. That leads to the final question.

XVII. Who is most at risk for COVID-19?

Currently travellers to areas where there is the ongoing sustained transmission of COVID-19 including Mainland China (all provinces), Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Italy and the Islamic Republic of Iran are at highest risk of infection with COVID-19. Furthermore, the elderly, individuals with co-morbidities and healthcare workers are at a higher risk of morbidity and mortality associated with the SARS-CoV-2. Please consult the latest guidance for information on which countries are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19.

XVIII. How is COVID-19 transmitted?

While the first cases probably involved exposure to an animal source, the virus now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. It is thought to happen mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Thus far, the majority of cases have occurred in people with close physical contact to cases and healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19.

XIX. How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

COVID-19 is diagnosed by a laboratory test, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular analysis, on a respiratory tract sample (e.g. sample from nose, throat or chest).

XX. How is COVID-19 infection treated?

Treatment is supportive (e.g. provide oxygen for patients with shortness of breath or treatment for fever). There is no specific antiviral treatment available. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics may be required if a secondary bacterial infection develops.

XXI. How effective are drugs like Hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19?

Nobody knows about ityetfor sure. It is biologically plausible from what is known about what chloroquine does in cells, but we need to wait for the results of trials to tell us whether to use it or not. When there is no cure, everyone hopes for a solution. This is where we need to be especially careful that our hopes do not lead us to overestimate benefit. That said, if it works, it would change a lot for the better.

XXII. There have been claims that vibrations and energy created by sound, or consumption of garlic and alcohol can kill the novel coronavirus. Are these true?

Claims of vibrations, sound, garlic and alcohol killing the virus are all false. However, I reiterate that not everyone infected with the virus will die. This is a mild or moderate infection in 80% of people.

XXIII. Are patients with heart disease, diabetes or hypertension at increased risk to get coronavirus infection?

No, people with hypertension, diabetes or heart diseases are at no higher risk of getting the infection than anyone else.

XXIV. Among people with the above diseases, is there an increased risk of severe illness or complications once infected?

The majority, which is 80 per cent of people diagnosed with COVID-19, will have mild symptoms of a respiratory infection (fever, sore throat, cough) and make a full recovery. Some of the people with diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases, including Heart Failure, may develop more severe symptoms and complications. Therefore, they require extra care.

XXV. Are people with diabetes more prone to COVID-19?

In general, you know that people with uncontrolled diabetes are at increased risk of all infections. People with diabetes are not at higher risk for acquiring the infection, but some individuals are prone to more severe disease, and poorer outcomes once infected.

Hence, follow your diet and exercise routine (to the extent possible), take your medications regularly and test your sugar levels frequently to keep your diabetes under control. When diabetic patients become sick, they may require frequent monitoring of blood glucose and adjustment of drugs including insulin, small frequent meals and adequate fluids.

XXVI. What about reports about BP medications increasing severity of COVID-19?

After review of the available information, the consensus of various scientific societies and expert group of cardiologists is that currently there is no evidence that the two group of drugs- ACE inhibitors (For instance, Ramipril, Enalapril and so on) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) (Namely, Losartan, Telmisartan and so on) increase the susceptibility or severity of COVID-19.These drugs are very effective for heart failure by supporting your heart function and controlling high blood pressure. It may be harmful to stop these medications by yourself. This can worsen your heart condition.

XXVII. What can I take pain or fever?

Some type of painkillers like Ibuprofen is found to worsen the COVID-19. Such drugs are known to be harmful to heart failure patients and may increase your risk of kidney damage. Paracetamol is one of the safest pain killers to use if needed.

XXVIII. Are there any medicines or therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19?

While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. Self-medication, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19, is not recommended. However, several ongoing clinical trials include both western and traditional medicines.

XXIX. Is there a vaccine drug or treatment for COVID-19?

Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care. Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.

XXX. What is a community spread?

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.


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  3. https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/covid-19/frequently-asked-questions/
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#anchor_1584386215012
  5. https://icmr.nic.in/sites/default/files/upload_documents/FAQs_English.pdf
  6. https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/FAQ.pdf
  7. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses