Common questions

1Who should get an antibody test for COVID-19?
Many countries are now testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the population level or in specific groups, such as health workers, close contacts of known cases, or within households. WHO supports these studies, as they are critical for understanding the extent of – and risk factors associated with – infection. www.who.int
2How long does it take to produce antibodies to fight the coronavirus disease?
There is another, more common type of rapid diagnostic test marketed for COVID-19; a test that detects the presence of antibodies in the blood of people believed to have been infected with COVID-19. Antibodies are produced over days to weeks after infection with the virus. The strength of antibody response depends on several factors, including age, nutritional status, severity of disease, and certain medications or infections like HIV that suppress the immune system. In some people with COVID-19, disease confirmed by molecular testing (e.g. reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction: RT-PCR), weak, late or absent antibody responses have been reported. Studies suggest that the majority of patients develop antibody response only in the second week after onset of symptoms. www.who.int
3What should I do if I test positive for the coronavirus disease?
If people test positive, they should be isolated and the people they have been in close contact with up to 2 days before they developed symptoms should be sought out, and those people should be tested too if they show symptoms of COVID-19. WHO also advises that all confirmed cases, even mild cases, should be isolated in health facilities, to prevent transmission and provide adequate care. But we recognize that many countries have already exceeded their capacity to care for mild cases in dedicated health facilities.
4How is the presence of COVID-19 detected in testings?
Infection with the virus causing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is confirmed by the presence of viral RNA detected by molecular testing, usually RT-PCR. Detection of viral RNA does not necessarily mean that a person is infectious and able to transmit the virus to another person.
5Is headache a symptom of the coronavirus disease?
The virus can cause a range of symptoms, from ranging from mild illness to pneumonia. Symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, sore throat and headaches.
6Can the coronavirus disease be transmitted from food?
It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and the primary transmission route is through person-to- person contact and through direct contact with respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging.
7Can the coronavirus spread via feces?
There is some evidence that COVID-19 infection may lead to intestinal infection and be present in faeces. However, to date only one study has cultured the COVID-19 virus from a single stool specimen. There have been no reports of faecal−oral transmission of the COVID-19 virus to date.
8Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to 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 of both western and traditional medicines. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19 and will continue to provide updated information as soon as research results become available.
9Should coronavirus disease patients be isolated in hospitals?
WHO advises that all confirmed cases, even mild cases, should be isolated in health facilities, to prevent transmission and provide adequate care. But we recognize that many countries have already exceeded their capacity to care for mild cases in dedicated health facilities. In that situation, countries should prioritize older patients and those with underlying conditions.
10Can the coronavirus disease be transmitted in hot or humid climates?
From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
11Can the coronavirus disease spread through sewage?
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus has been transmitted via sewerage systems with or without wastewater treatment.
12Does drinking lots of water help flush out COVID-19?
There is no evidence that drinking lots of water flushes out the new coronavirus or the stomach acid kills the virus. However, for good health in general, it is recommended that people should have adequate water every day for good health and to prevent dehydration.
13Is smoking a risk-factors for COVID-19?
Smoking is already known to be a risk-factor for many other respiratory infections, including colds, influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis. The effects of smoking on the respiratory system makes it more likely that smokers contract these diseases, which could be more severe. Smoking is also associated with increased development of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a key complication for severe cases of COVID-19, among people with severe respiratory infections.
14How dangerous is COVID-19?
Although for most people COVID-19 causes only mild illness, it can make some people very ill. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre- existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes) appear to be more vulnerable.
15Who is at risk for coronavirus?
The virus that causes COVID-19 infects people of all ages. However, evidence to date suggests that two groups of people are at a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 disease. These are older people (that is people over 60 years old); and those with underlying medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer). The risk of severe disease gradually increases with age starting from around 40 years. It's important that adults in this age range protect themselves and in turn protect others that may be more vulnerable. WHO has issued advice for these two groups and for community support to ensure that they are protected from COVID-19 without being isolated, stigmatized, left in a position of increased vulnerability or unable to access basic provisions and social care.
16Is the coronavirus disease a pandemic?
COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. This is due to the rapid increase in the number of cases outside China over the past 2 weeks that has affected a growing number of countries.
17Does heat kill the coronavirus?
Heat at 56°C kills the SARS coronavirus at around 10000 units per 15 min (quick reduction).
18Is coronavirus a bacteria or virus?
The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
19Can you contract the coronavirus disease by touching a surface?
People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
20Is the coronavirus disease more severe than the flu?
COVID-19 causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza. While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease. Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.
21What is a safe distance from others to protect against the coronavirus disease?
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks 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 has the disease.
22What are the symptoms of the coronavirus disease?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, or sore throat. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment, and for the majority – especially for children and young adults – illness due to COVID-19 is generally minor. However, for some people it can cause serious illness.
23Is temperature screening effective to detect the coronavirus disease?
Temperature screening alone, at exit or entry, is not an effective way to stop international spread, since infected individuals may be in incubation period, may not express apparent symptoms early on in the course of the disease, or may dissimulate fever through the use of antipyretics; in addition, such measures require substantial investments for what may bear little benefits. It is more effective to provide prevention recommendation messages to travellers and to collect health declarations at arrival, with travellers' contact details, to allow for a proper risk assessment and a possible contact tracing of incoming travellers.
24Which are the first symptoms of the coronavirus disease?
The virus can cause a range of symptoms, ranging from mild illness to pneumonia. Symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, sore throat and headaches. In severe cases difficulty in breathing and deaths can occur.
25Can babies get the coronavirus disease?
We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children.
26Which are the most common symptoms of the coronavirus disease?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia.
27Can I breastfeed my child if I am severely ill with coronavirus disease?
If you are severely ill with COVID-19 or suffer from other complications that prevent you from caring for your infant or continuing direct breastfeeding, express milk to safely provide breastmilk to your infant. If you are too unwell to breastfeed or express breastmilk, you should explore the possibility of relactation (restarting breastfeeding after a gap), wet nursing (another woman breastfeeding or caring for your child), or using donor human milk.
28Can cold weather and snow prevent the coronavirus disease?
Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus. There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases.
29Can asymptomatic patients transmit COVID-19?
Available evidence from contact tracing reported by countries suggests that asymptomatically infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms. A subset of studies and data shared by some countries on detailed cluster investigations and contact tracing activities have reported that asymptomatically-infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms. Comprehensive studies on transmission from asymptomatic patients are difficult to conduct, as they require testing of large population cohorts and more data are needed to better understand and quantified the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2. WHO is working with countries around the world, and global researchers, to gain better evidence-based understanding of the disease as a whole, including the role of asymptomatic patients in the transmission of the virus.
30What is the most likely ecological reservoirs for coronavirus disease?
The most likely ecological reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2 are bats, but it is believed that the virus jumped the species barrier to humans from another intermediate animal host. This intermediate animal host could be a domestic food animal, a wild animal, or a domesticated wild animal which has not yet been identified.
31How should I protect against COVID-19?
COVID-19 transmission and protective measures. Clean your hands often. Cough or sneeze in your bent elbow - not your hands! Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Limit social gatherings and time spent in crowded places. Avoid close contact with someone who is sick. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
32Will I get more severe symptoms of COVID-19 if I drink alcohol?
Will I get more severe symptoms of COVID-19 if I drink alcohol? Consuming alcohol will not destroy the virus, and its consumption is likely to increase the health risks if a person becomes infected with the virus. Alcohol (at a concentration of at least 60% by volume) works as a disinfectant on your skin, but it has no such effect within your system when ingested.
33Can smoking waterpipes spread the coronavirus disease?
Smoking waterpipes, also known as shisha or hookah, often involves the sharing of mouth pieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in communal and social settings.
34Does BCG vaccine protect you from getting the coronavirus disease?
There is no evidence that the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) protects people against infection with COVID-19 virus. Two clinical trials addressing this question are underway, and WHO will evaluate the evidence when it is available. In the absence of evidence, WHO does not recommend BCG vaccination for the prevention of COVID-19. WHO continues to recommend neonatal BCG vaccination in countries or settings with a high incidence of tuberculosis.
35What is COVAX?
The COVAX Facility forms a key part of the COVAX pillar (COVAX) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
36How does COVID-19 spread?
To the best of our understanding, the virus is primarily spread through contact and respiratory droplets. Under some circumstances airborne transmission may occur (such as when aerosol generating procedures are conducted in health care settings or potentially, in indoor crowded poorly ventilated settings elsewhere). More studies are urgently needed to investigate such instances and assess their actual significance for transmission of COVID-19.
37What is the risk of dying for the older people?
Over 95% of these deaths occurred in those older than 60 years. More than 50% of all fatalities involved people aged 80 years or older. Reports show that 8 out of 10 deaths are occurring in individuals with at least one comorbidity, in particular those with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes, but also with a range of other chronic underlying conditions.
38What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered strain of coronavirus, a type of virus known to cause respiratory infections in humans. This new strain was unknown before December 2019, when an outbreak of a pneumonia of unidentified cause emerged in Wuhan, China.
39Does consuming alcohol kill Covid-19?
Consuming alcohol will not destroy the virus, and its consumption is likely to increase the health risks if a person becomes infected with the virus. Alcohol (at a concentration of at least 60% by volume) works as a disinfectant on your skin, but it has no such effect within your system when ingested.
40What type of mask should you use for the coronavirus disease?
Medical masks are surgical or procedure masks that are flat or pleated (some are like cups); they are affixed to the head with strapsa. Wearing a medical mask is one of the prevention measures to limit spread of certain respiratory diseases, including 2019- nCoV, in affected areas.
41Is there a vaccine for the coronavirus disease?
When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a number of years for a new vaccine to be developed.
42How do viruses get their name?
Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines. Virologists and the wider scientific community do this work, so viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).
43How long have coronaviruses existed?
The most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all coronaviruses is estimated to have existed as recently as 8000 BCE, although some models place the common ancestor as far back as 55 million years or more, implying long term coevolution with bat and avian species.
44Are people of a particular age vulnerable to coronavirus disease?
People of all ages can be infected by the COVID-19 virus. Older people and younger people can be infected by the COVID-19 virus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
45How many people with the coronavirus disease are asymptomatic?
For COVID-19, data to date suggest that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical infections, requiring ventilation.
46Will climate change make the COVID-19 pandemic worse?
There is no evidence of a direct connection between climate change and the emergence or transmission of COVID-19 disease. As the disease is now well established in the human population, efforts should focus on reducing transmission and treating patients. However, climate change may indirectly affect the COVID-19 response, as it undermines environmental determinants of health, and places additional stress on health systems. More generally, most emerging infectious diseases, and almost all recent pandemics, originate in wildlife, and there is evidence that increasing human pressure on the natural environment may drive disease emergence. Strengthening health systems, improved surveillance of infectious disease in wildlife, livestock and humans, and greater protection of biodiversity and the natural environment, should reduce the risks of future outbreaks of other new diseases.
47Do vaccines against pneumonia protect against the coronavirus disease?
No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts. Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.
48Who should get an antibody test for COVID-19?
Many countries are now testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the population level or in specific groups, such as health workers, close contacts of known cases, or within households. WHO supports these studies, as they are critical for understanding the extent of – and risk factors associated with – infection.
49Is the coronavirus disease spread by houseflies?
To date, there is no evidence or information to suggest that the COVID-19 virus transmitted through houseflies.
50Is coronavirus disease zootonic?
All available evidence for COVID-19 suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a zoonotic source.
51What should I do if I test positive for the coronavirus disease?
If people test positive, they should be isolated and the people they have been in close contact with up to 2 days before they developed symptoms should be sought out, and those people should be tested too if they show symptoms of COVID-19. WHO also advises that all confirmed cases, even mild cases, should be isolated in health facilities, to prevent transmission and provide adequate care. But we recognize that many countries have already exceeded their capacity to care for mild cases in dedicated health facilities.
52How long do coronavirus disease antigen tests take?
If the target antigen is present in sufficient concentrations in the sample, it will bind to specific antibodies fixed to a paper strip enclosed in a plastic casing and generate a visually detectable signal, typically within 30 minutes.
53What is the usual body temperature in coronavirus disease patients?
The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.
54Is headache a symptom of the coronavirus disease?
The virus can cause a range of symptoms, from ranging from mild illness to pneumonia. Symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, sore throat and headaches.
55What is the recovery time for the coronavirus disease?
Using available preliminary data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and is 3-6 weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.
56Can COVID-19 spread through food?
It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and the primary transmission route is through person-to- person contact and through direct contact with respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging. Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply.
57Can coronavirus disease spread through raw food?
As a general rule, the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, raw milk or raw animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross- contamination with uncooked foods.
58Can the coronavirus spread via feces?
There is some evidence that COVID-19 infection may lead to intestinal infection and be present in faeces. However, to date only one study has cultured the COVID-19 virus from a single stool specimen. There have been no reports of faecal−oral transmission of the COVID-19 virus to date.
59Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to 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 of both western and traditional medicines. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19 and will continue to provide updated information as soon as research results become available.
60Can coronavirus spread through mosquito bite?
To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.