1. What is a Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several Coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered Coronavirus causes Coronavirus disease COVID-19.
2. Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
While we are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, 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. This however does not exempt the younger ones from getting the disease and becoming asymptomatic
3. What does it mean if one is Asymptomatic?
Asymptomatic carriers of the virus are people who show no signs of being sick but have the virus and can spread it to others. It is unclear how common asymptomatic transmissions are with a new virus and something experts are desperate to determine because if asymptomatic transmissions are happening, it means it will be much harder to detect and stop the virus from spreading. And it will mean testing has to be done at a much larger scale in countries like the United States.
4. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
· Breathing difficulties
People who have recently travelled outside Nigeria or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should immediately contact NCDC on 07032864444 or 080097000010 (toll-free) if they feel unwell.
5. What can I do to protect myself?
Standard recommendations to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses include maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices as well as avoiding close contact – social distancing- as practically possible especially with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
6. How does COVID-19 spread?
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
7. 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. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines.
8. Is the source of the Coronavirus causing COVID-19 known?
Currently, the source of SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus (CoV) causing COVID-19 is unknown. All available evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a natural animal origin and is not a constructed virus. SARS-CoV-2 virus most probably has its ecological reservoir in bats. SARS-CoV-2, belongs to a group of genetically related viruses, which also include SARS-CoV and a number of other CoVs isolated from bats populations. MERS-CoV also belongs to this group, but is less closely related.
9. 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, but 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.
10. What alternatives do I have if there are no hand sanitizers available? Can I use other alcohol like ethyl or liquor?
If hand sanitizers are not available, hand washing with soap and water is the recommended, and even better, alternative. Liquor is not effective against Coronavirus. For an alcohol-based hand rub to be effective, it must have an alcohol content of 60% to 95%.
11. Can people who recover from COVID-19 be infected again?
We know that for similar Coronaviruses, infected people are unlikely to be re-infected shortly after they recover. However, because the immune response to COVID-19 is not yet understood, it is not yet known whether similar immune protection will be observed for patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
12. What does self-isolation mean?
Self-isolation is an important way of controlling the spread of COVID-19. It means that anyone who is returning to Nigeria must stay at home and in strict isolation from their families for 14 days. This is to limit contact with people, protect yourself and loved ones. The NCDC guidelines on this can be found on http://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/resource/guideline/NCDC%20Self-Isolation%20Guideline%20for%20COVID19.pdf
13. What does social distancing mean?
This is an effective strategy to reduce physical interaction between people towards delaying and reducing the wide spread of COVID-19 in a community.
This measure involves strict adherence to:
· Non-contact greetings (avoiding shaking of hands and hugs)
· Maintaining at least 2 metres (5 feet) physical distance between yourself and individuals and
· Closure of activities that will cause any form of gathering including schools, houses of worship, and social events
14. How are social distancing and self-isolation measures being implemented and monitored?
States Governments, at all levels, are deploying various strategies to ensure compliance with these directives.
* The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations (UN) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.
Sources: WHO, UN and NCDC websites