About COVID-19

What is the Coronavirus?

  1. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.
  2. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread.
  3. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.
  4. The name coronavirus is derived from the Latin corona, meaning "crown" or "halo", which refers to the characteristic appearance reminiscent of a crown.

What does it look like?

Coronavirus under a microscopeCoronavirus under a microscope

These images are colorized and from electron microscropes.

How do you get infected?

  1. The main route of transmission is respiratory droplets and close contact.
  2. When you sneeze or cough, you send out droplets of fluid from your nose and mouth.
  3. Those droplets can carry infections, and when they enter someone else's enter the eyes, nose or mouth, the infection can make them sick. This is the way the flu and many viruses are spread.
  4. Most often, you need to be close to the person (within 6 feet) for it to spread this way.
  5. There is the possibility of aerosol transmission when exposed to high concentration aerosol for a long time in a relatively closed environment.
  6. The WHO has stated that the risk of spread from someone without symptoms is "very low" and that fecal transmission is "low".


  1. COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates.
  2. Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.
  3. Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease.
  4. The new coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites.
  5. Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus? No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV.
  6. Can an ultraviolet disinfection lamp kill the new coronavirus? UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
  7. Can spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus? No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body.
  8. Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus? No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.
  9. Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus? No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.
  10. Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus? Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.
  11. Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus? No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

How can I protect myself?

Hand washing
  1. A number of governments advise against all non-essential travel to countries and areas affected by the outbreak.
  2. There are misconceptions circulating about how to prevent infection: rinsing the nose, gargling with mouthwash, and eating garlic are not effective.
  3. The CDC recommends that people wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the toilet or when hands are visibly dirty.
    • It is further recommended using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol by volume (or 120 proof) when soap and water are not readily available.
    • The WHO also advise people to avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Respiratory hygiene
  1. Health organizations recommend that people cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (which should then be disposed of immediately), or with a sleeve if a tissue is not available.
  2. The use of surgical masks by those who may be infected has also been recommended, as they can limit the volume and travel distance of expiratory droplets dispersed when talking, sneezing, and coughing.
  3. There is no evidence to show that the wearing of surgical masks by uninfected people at low risk is effective.
  4. Only China has specifically recommended the use of masks by healthy members of the public, while face masks have been widely used by healthy people in Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
How to use a mask?
  1. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  2. If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
  3. Before putting on a mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose with the mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  5. Avoid touching the mask while using it.
  6. Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  7. To remove the mask, remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask), discard it immediately in a closed bin, and then clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

How do I know if I am infected?

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

If you feel that you have been exposed to any of the symptoms of the virus, you can also try answering the questions of this HealthBot.

Dry cough67.7%
Sputum production33.4%
Shortness of breath18.6%
Muscle pain or joint pain14.8%
Sore throat13.9%
Nausea or vomiting5.0%
Nasal congestion4.8%
Conjunctival congestion0.8%

Ok I think I'm infected, now what?

  1. Self-isolation at home has been recommended for those diagnosed with COVID-19 and those who suspect they have been infected.
  2. Public health agencies have issued self-isolation instructions that include notification of healthcare providers by phone and restricting all activities outside of the home, except for getting medical care.
  3. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  4. Those who have recently travelled to a country with widespread transmission or who have been in direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 have also been asked by some government health agencies to self-quarantine or practise social distancing for 14 days from the time of last possible exposure.
  5. Attempts to relieve the symptoms may include taking regular (over-the-counter) cold medications, drinking fluids, and resting. Depending on the severity, oxygen therapy, intravenous fluids, and breathing support may be required.
  6. The use of steroids may worsen outcomes.

If you feel that you have been exposed to any of the symptoms of the virus, you can also try answering the questions of this HealthBot.

Is there a vaccine or a cure?

Yes. There are three COVID-19 vaccines for which certain national regulatory authorities have authorized the use. None have yet received WHO EUL/PQ authorization but we expect an assessment on the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December and for some other candidates soon thereafter.

Large studies of 5 vaccine candidates efficacy and safety results, including these three (and for Moderna and AstraZeneca), have been publicly reportedthrough press releases but only one (AstraZeneca) has published results in the peer reviewed literature., We expect more such reports in the near future.It is likely that additional candidates will be submitted to regulatory authorities for approval. There are many potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in development.

Once vaccines are demonstrated to be safe and efficacious, they must be approved by national regulators, manufactured to exacting standards, and distributed. WHO is working with partners around the world to help coordinate key steps in this process, including to facilitate equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the billions of people who will need them. More information about COVID-19 vaccine development is available here.

When will COVID-19 vaccines be available for distribution?

The first COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to be introduced in countries. Before COVID-19 vaccines can be delivered:

  • The vaccines must be proven safe and effective in large (phase III) clinical trials. Some large clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidates have reported encouraging preliminary results, and many other potential vaccines are being developed.
  • A series of independent reviews of the efficacy and safety evidence is required, including regulatory review and approval in the country where the vaccine is manufactured, before WHO considers a vaccine product for prequalification. Part of this process also involves the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety.
  • In addition to review of the data for regulatory purposes, the evidence must also be reviewed for the purpose of policy recommendations on how the vaccines should be used.
  • An external panel of experts convened by WHO, called the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), analyzes the results from clinical trials, along with evidence on the disease, age groups affected, risk factors for disease, and other information. The panel then recommends whether and how the vaccines should be used.
  • Officials in individual countries decide whether to approve the vaccines for national use and develop policies for how to use the vaccines in their country based on the WHO recommendations.
  • The vaccines must be manufactured in large quantities, which is a major and unprecedented challenge – all the while continuing to produce all the other important life-saving vaccines already in use.
  • As a final step, all approved vaccines will require distribution through a complex logistical process, with rigorous stock management and temperature control.

What types of COVID-19 vaccines are being developed? How would they work?

Several different types of potential vaccines for COVID-19 are in development, including:

  • Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines, which use a form of the virus that has been inactivated or weakened so it doesn’t cause disease, but still generates an immune response.
  • Protein-based vaccines, which use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the COVID-19 virus to safely generate an immune response.
  • Viral vector vaccines, which use a virus that has been genetically engineered so that it can’t cause disease, but produces coronavirus proteins to safely generate an immune response.
  • RNA and DNA vaccines, a cutting-edge approach that uses genetically engineered RNA or DNA to generate a protein that itself safely prompts an immune response.

Will COVID-19 vaccines provide long-term protection?

It’s too early to know if COVID-19 vaccines will provide long-term protection. Additional research is needed to answer this question. However, it’s encouraging that available data suggest that most people who recover from COVID-19 develop an immune response that provides at least some period of protection against reinfection – although we’re still learning how strong this protection is, and how long it lasts.

Most COVID-19 vaccines being tested or reviewed now are using two dose regimens.

How quickly could COVID-19 vaccines stop the pandemic?

The impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the pandemic will depend on several factors. These include factors such as the effectiveness of the vaccines; how quickly they are approved, manufactured, and delivered; and how many people get vaccinated.

Most scientists anticipate that, like most other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines will not be 100?fective. WHO is working to help ensure that any approved vaccines are as effective as possible, so they can have the greatest impact on the pandemic.

Useful Links

- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- HealthBot
- Be Safe Moris
- Medicine.mu
- Latest COVID-19 News

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