There’s a lot of information circulating about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), so it’s important to know what’s true and what’s not.
Social media is being flooded with misinformation about coronavirus.
Reliable and timely information you can find on World Health Organisation site exclusively.
Here are the most important.
What is coronavirus?
According to the WHO, COVID-19 is the 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.
The name coronavirus comes from the Latin word corona, meaning crown or halo. Under an electron microscope, the image of the virus looks like a solar corona.
The novel coronavirus, identified by Chinese authorities on January 7 and since named COVID-19, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans. Little is known about it, although human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.
What are the symptoms?
According to the WHO, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.
These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How deadly is it?
The number of fatalities from this new coronavirus has surpassed the toll of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which also originated in China.
SARS killed about 9 percent of those it infected – nearly 800 people worldwide and more than 300 in China alone. MERS, which did not spread as widely, was more deadly, killing one-third of those it infected.
While the new coronavirus is more widespread in China than SARS in terms of case numbers, the mortality rate remains considerably lower at approximately 2 percent, according to the WHO.
Where have cases been reported?
Most cases and deaths have been reported in China – the vast majority in Hubei province.
Deaths have also been confirmed in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, France, Taiwan, South Korea, Italy and Iran.
The virus has spread to many countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Africa.
The majority of cases outside China are among people who recently travelled to the country, however, instances of human-to-human transmission have been recorded in several countries and questions have been raised about cases with no apparent link to China.
Basic protective measures?
Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider
Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
According to the WHO, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?
According to the WHO, 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 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.
Where did the virus originate?
Chinese health authorities are still trying to determine the origin of the virus, which they say likely came from a seafood market in Wuhan where wildlife was also traded illegally.
On February 7, Chinese researchers said the virus could have spread from an infected animal species to humans through illegally-trafficked pangolins, which are prized in Asia for food and medicine.
Scientists have pointed to either bats or snakes as the source of the virus.
Is this a global emergency?
The outbreak now constitutes a global health emergency, the WHO said on January 30.
On March 11, WHO declared the crisis a pandemic, raising alarm over the spread and severity of the disease.
The decision to sound the top-level alarm was made after the first cases of human-to-human transmission outside China were confirmed.
The international health alert is a call to countries around the world to coordinate their response under the guidance of the United Nations health agency.
There have been five global health emergencies since 2005 when the declaration was formalised: swine flu in 2009, polio in 2014, Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2016 and Ebola again in 2019.
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.