Coronavirus FAQ Here’s what you need to know

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Coronavirus – or Covid-19 – has infected almost 110,000 people worldwide since it broke out in December. There are still no cases in Antigua and Barbuda but the virus is continuing to spread across the globe. The World Health Organization answers your questions.

What are the symptoms?

Fever, tiredness, dry cough and shortness of breath. Some people may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.

How dangerous is it?

About 80 percent of people recover without needing special treatment. Around one in six infected people becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

Who’s most at risk?

Older people, and those with underlying problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, lung disease, cancer or diabetes.

How does COVID-19 spread?

From person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth when an infected person coughs or exhales. These droplets land on nearby objects and surfaces. Other people then catch it by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch it if they breathe in droplets from an infected person who coughs out or exhales droplets.

How do I protect myself?

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water to kill viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Stay at least 3ft away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid traveling to places where there is a major outbreak – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.

Is it safe to receive a package from a place where the virus has been reported?

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

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

Studies suggest that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This can vary according to type of surface, temperature or humidity.

Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

No. There is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections.

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

While some traditional remedies may alleviate symptoms, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease.

Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment available?

There is not yet a vaccine or specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat the illness.

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 it. Disposable face masks can only be used once. Unless you are ill or looking after someone who is ill then you’re wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.

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