COVID-19 Basics

Coronavirus diseasee (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. The disease caused by the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. The virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

COVID-19 has been described as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. What does that mean? Characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic is not an indication that the virus has become deadlier. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement of the disease’s geographical spread.

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There’s a lot of information online. What should I do?

There are a lot of myths and misinformation about coronavirus being shared online – including on how COVID-19 spreads, how to stay safe, and what to do if you’re worried about having contracted the virus. So, it’s important to be careful where you look for information and advice. You can find content, information and recommendations on how to reduce the risk of infectionnavigating pregnancy during the coronavirus disease pandemic, how to keep children safe online, and precautions to take when traveling on the UNICEF site. The organization has also launched a portal where you can find more information and guidance about COVID-19. The WHO has a useful section addressing some of the most frequently asked questions.

How doest it spread?

The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for a few hours to several days, but simple disinfectants can kill it. Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets, rather than through the air. 

Symptoms

Coronavirus infects the lungs. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. The two main symptoms are a fever or a dry cough, which can sometimes lead to breathing problems. The cough to look out for is a new, continuous cough. This means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or having three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours. If you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual. You have a fever if your temperature is above 37.8C. This can make you feel warm, cold or shivery. A sore throat, headache and diarrhea have also been reported and a loss of smell and taste may also be a symptom. These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19.  It takes five days on average to start showing the symptoms, but some people will get them much later. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the incubation period lasts up to 14 days. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Prevention

Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. T he COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow). Here on the CDC website you can find more details about how to protect yourself and your family. This is the WHO website section on preventing the disease .

Here are some precautions you and your family can take to help avoid infection:

COVID-19: Tips on Prevention | Gillette Children's Specialty ...

Should I wear a medical/home made mask?

According to WHO, the use of a medical mask is advised if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) to protect others, or if you are caring for someone who may have COVID-19. In Hungary, the Hungarian Medical Chamber strongly advising the use of face masks (any kind) when going outside, meeting others, public places, to slow the spread of the virus. If masks are worn, they must be used and disposed of properly to ensure their effectiveness and to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus. Disposable face masks can only be used once. The use of a mask alone is not enough to stop infections and must be combined with frequent hand washing, covering sneezes and coughs, and avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing, fever). If you want to make your own face mask, just check out YouTube. Best to go for 3+ layers, and changeable inserts.

Medication

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.

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