Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is short for “coronavirus disease 2019.” This is the name that the World Health Organization (WHO) assigned to the illness caused by a newly discovered strain of coronavirus, which began it’s rapid spread in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals as well as humans. Coronaviruses are thought to be responsible for up to one-third of upper respiratory infections, more simply known as the common cold. Some strains of coronavirus have been known to cause more severe respiratory illness, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms most commonly experienced include: fevers, cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Developing body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion or diarrhea is also possible. In some cases people who are infected will not exhibit any symptoms, though most people experience a mild form of the disease, similar to a cold or flu virus. Certain groups of people may experience more serious illness, including older people (over the age of 65) and those with a history of medical conditions such as decreased immunity, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. Pregnant women may also be at increased risk for more severe illness due to changes that occur in the immune system while pregnant. The rate of people who have experienced a fatal course due to the coronavirus is estimated by the WHO to be 2%.

How is COVID-19 spread?

Health officials continue to study the virus to determine how it is spread. Currently there are a few different modes of transmission suggested based on individuals who have been diagnosed with the newly detected coronavirus. Early in the outbreak in Wuhan city, China, people reported being at live animal markets prior to diagnosis of the condition, which led public health officials to believe that the transmission may be from animal-to-person. Since that time, it has been found that many patients had not been to an animal market before developing symptoms, making it likely that the virus is also spread from person-to-person. As with other viruses, the water droplets that are expelled when coughing or sneezing contain virus particles when an individual is infected with the coronavirus. These droplets are spread to other people in the surrounding air, this is called respiratory droplet transmission.

Should i be worried about COVID-19?

With news sources everywhere reporting on the novel coronavirus and the effects it has had on daily life in countries with widespread outbreaks such as China, it is difficult not to feel some level of anxiety about the virus. Take a deep breath and try to stay calm! According to the World Health Organization, the chances of developing COVID-19 is currently LOW in many regions, with the exception of the following circumstances: a) you are in an area where COVID-19 is actively spreading, b) you have recently travelled from such a location, or c) you have been in contact with someone who has travelled from an active area of spread.
Being prepared for continued spread of the virus is nevertheless important. If you are not sure about your risk of contracting the virus, talk to a healthcare provider about any recent exposures or travel history.

How can you protect yourself and your family from the coronavirus?
  • Avoid non-essential travel to countries or areas where cases of the coronavirus have been identified. Up-to-date coronavirus disease 2019 information for travelers is located at the Ministry of Health.

  • Wash your hands! Just like any other virus, germs can be spread by touch. Washing your hands frequently can help to prevent exposure to the virus. If you are using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol for best efficacy.

  • Disinfect surfaces that are used by others. The novel coronavirus, like many other viruses, is thought to live on surfaces from several hours up to a few days. This can lead to exposure to the virus by touching the infected surface and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth. Wash your hands after disinfecting surfaces.

  • Purchase water and food supplies that can last for more than two weeks. In the event of local impact, stores may be closed temporarily.

  • Discuss postponement of non-essential medical procedures with your doctor.

  • Consider child care options if daycares and schools were to close.

  • Talk to your employer about the plan if an outbreak occurs in your local area (for example, remote work and office closures).

  • Make sure you have enough of any prescription medications you are taking at home. Reach out to your doctor to request refills or an extra supply for chronic medications. Up to a 3-month supply is recommended to ensure you do not run out of needed medications in case a supply disruption occurs.

Equip your home with basic medical supplies, suggested supplies are below:
  • Thermometer. It is important to be able to monitor your temperature if you start to develop a cough or other symptoms of a virus. Purchase a thermometer from your local pharmacy and make sure it is working properly.

  • Over-the-counter remedies to treat symptoms, including fever and pain reducers (e.g., acetaminophen or ibuprofen), cough medications, and plenty of fluids as well as electrolyte replacements.

  • Surgical masks and disposable gloves. Using a mask is recommended by the World Health Organization only if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing), have suspected COVID-19 infection with mild symptoms, or are caring for someone with suspected COVID-19 infection. Wearing two masks at a time does not increase the efficacy of the facemask.

What should you do if you suspect that you may have COVID-19?
  • Stay at home

You might consider leaving home in order to seek medical care if your symptoms are severe, otherwise it is important to remain at home. Call before seeking medical care in a clinic or healthcare facility; the staff will be able to give you information on where to go upon arrival to prevent exposing other people to the illness. Getting in touch with a telemedicine clinician for a medical evaluation from your home before going into an office is a great option. A remote doctor visit can be helpful to reduce spread of the illness as well as determining if it is likely that you may have the virus based on your history and whether or not you need a higher level of care, such as a visit to the ER.

  • Isolate yourself

Staying in a room away from other people in your home is an important way to decrease the risk of your family or friends getting exposed to the virus. Use a bathroom that is separate from everyone else in the home if one is available. Is it also recommended to stay away from any pets that live with you. Although there is no known transmission between companion animals (such as dogs or cats) at this time, it is advisable not to be in close proximity to your pets until more is understood about the virus. You should discuss with your healthcare provider when it is okay to be out in public again.

  • Wear a facemask

If you have symptoms suspicious of COVID-19, wear a facemask to prevent spread of the illness both at home and if you go to a medical facility for care. People that live at home with you should also wear a facemask if they are in the same room as you. Gloves can also be used for additional protection from the virus.

  • Follow the same precautions as with any other virus

This includes washing your hands frequently, disinfecting hard surfaces (table tops, door knobs, keyboards, for example), covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and avoiding sharing cups or utensils while sick.

If you've had contact with someone with coronavirus, it is important to seek medical evaluation. Your specific risk will depend on the type of contact you had with the individual. A virtual video visit with a doctor can help you to determine your risk and what your next steps are. A "close contact" means being in a confined space with an individual who has the disease, such as in a home, hospital room or classroom. Be sure to take precautions until you seek medical advice to ensure you do not expose others to the illness.

It is important to note that the coronavirus, like all viruses, is not treated with an antibiotic. There is no specific drug or vaccination that is effective for the novel coronavirus at this time. Most people will improve on their own with symptom-based treatments, similar to other types of coronaviruses such as the common cold. Some groups of people are at risk for more serious illness, including older people (over the age of 65) and those with a history of medical conditions such as decreased immunity, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. Pregnant women may also be at increased risk for more severe illness due to changes that occur in the immune system while pregnant.


Talk to a healthcare provider to determine what the best treatment strategies are for your symptoms and health history.

Symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu virus can overlap, so it’s important to understand the facts to seek the right treatment. Both viruses cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Severe cases of both viruses can lead to pneumonia and can even cause death. The key differences to look out for are known exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with either influenza or COVID-19. In addition, your travel history during the 14 days before your symptoms began is important in differentiating whether your symptoms are likely to be due to the flu versus COVID-19. Both viruses are spread in similar ways through human-to-human respiratory droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking. Although the viruses have similar symptoms, they are caused by different viruses which means that the antiviral treatment available for the flu does not work for COVID-19. To protect against the spread of the flu, a vaccine is available and effective to prevent and reduce the severity of the flu. For COVID-19, no vaccine is available at this time, but this is something that scientists are working on.

No, there is currently not a vaccine that works against the newly isolated coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It is important to note that the coronavirus, like all viruses, is not treated with an antibiotic. There is not currently a specific drug that is effective for the novel coronavirus at this time. Most people improve on their own with symptom-based treatments, similar to other types of coronaviruses such as the common cold. Some groups of people are at risk for more serious illness, including older people (over the age of 65) and those with a history of medical conditions such as decreased immunity, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. Pregnant women may also be at increased risk for more severe illness due to changes that occur in the immune system while pregnant.


Talk to a healthcare provider to determine what the best treatment strategies are for your symptoms and health history.

It is not clear at this time how long a person might be contagious with the coronavirus disease, 2-14 days from the last date of exposure has been suggested because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for more well understood coronaviruses. If you are curious to know about hard surfaces, it is thought that the novel coronavirus may behave like other coronaviruses and survive on surfaces from several hours up to a few days.

When dealing with public health emergencies, stress reactions are expected and very common. Being aware of signs that natural stress is turning into something more like anxiety or depression is an important part of ongoing assessment for both yourself and those under your care. If worrisome thoughts linger or start to interfere with your day to day functioning, it may be something more. Symptoms of anxiety can impact you physically and emotionally so taking care of yourself becomes of the utmost importance. Traumatic events can also make you feel vulnerable, afraid and helpless. Talking about your feelings will reduce stigma and help eliminate barriers to obtaining appropriate medical and mental health services. Schedule an appointment with one of Get Well's certified psychiatrists or licensed psychologists if you have specific concerns or questions about how you are feeling.

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