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General COVID-19 Information

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.  WHO first learned of this new virus on 31 December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing). Individuals can also be infected from and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching their face (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth). The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue

Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include:

  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nasal congestion
  • Conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes)
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain,
  • Different types of skin rash
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills or dizziness.

Symptoms of severe COVID‐19 disease include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest,
  • High temperature (above 38 °C).

Other less common symptoms are:

  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Reduced consciousness (sometimes associated with seizures)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • More severe and rare neurological complications such as strokes, brain inflammation, delirium, and nerve damage.

People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated with difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical care immediately. If possible, call your health care provider, hotline or health facility first, so you can be directed to the right clinic.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who is most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19?

People aged 60 years and over, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, or cancer, are at higher risk of developing a serious illness.

However, anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age.

Can teenager and kids get COVID-19?

Children & teens can get COVID-19. While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19 and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others.

How long does it take to develop symptoms?

The incubation period of COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus and symptom onset, is on average 5-6 days, but can be as long as 14 days. Thus, quarantine should be in place for 14 days from the last exposure to a confirmed case.

For how long is COVID-19 positive person contagious?

You can be contiguous 2 days before have symptoms and up to 9 days after the first day you developed symptoms. Also, you can be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*

*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​.

Most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others; however, if your healthcare provider recommends testing, they will let you know when you can resume being around others based on your test results.

What are the health complications of COVID-10?
  • Pneumonia and trouble breathing.
  • Organ failure in several organs.
  • Heart problems.
  • A severe lung condition that causes a low amount of oxygen to go through your bloodstream to your organs (acute respiratory distress syndrome)
  • Blood clots.
  • Acute kidney injury.
  • Additional viral and bacterial infections.
What is social distancing?

Social distancing also called “physical distancing,” means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household.

To practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.

 

Social distancing should be practiced in combination with other everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

When You Can be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19

For Anyone Who Has Been Around a Person with COVID-19 Anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after their last exposure to that person. The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home for 14 days if you think you‘ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.

How to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with?

Try to stay away from people you live with

If you have symptoms, you should stay away from other people you live with as much as possible.

If you can:

  • stay on your own in one room as much as possible and keep the door closed.
  • avoid using shared spaces (such as the kitchen) at the same time as other people – eat your meals in your room.
  • use a separate bathroom – otherwise, use the bathroom after everyone else and clean it each time you use it, for example, by wiping the surfaces you’ve touched.
What do I do if I am COVID-19 positive?
  • An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive.

Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick:

    1. Stay home.
    2. Take care of yourself.
    3. Stay in touch with your doctor.
    4. Avoid public transportation, ridesharing, or taxis.
What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

Stay home and self-isolate even if you have minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Call your health care provider or hotline for advice. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house or have someone near you, wear a medical mask to avoid infecting others.

If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Call by telephone first, if you can and follow the directions of your local health authority.

When should I seek for medical attention when positive for COVID-19?

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Persistent pain.
  • pressure in the chest.
Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

If you have symptoms and want to know if you have COVID-19, you can get a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.

A (PCR) test is performed to detect genetic material from a specific organism, such as a virus. The test detects the presence of a virus if you are infected at the time of the test. The test could also detect fragments of the virus even after you are no longer infected.

The nose swab PCR test for COVID-19 is the most accurate and reliable test for diagnosing COVID-19. A positive test means you likely have COVID-19. A negative test means you probably did not have COVID-19 at the time of the test. Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

  • It does not require fasting or medical reference.
  • An appointment or home service within the GAM (Metropolitan area) is required.

You must wait at least five days before you get tested if you had direct contact with a COVID-19 positive person.

PCR Test

The nose swab PCR test for COVID-19 is the most accurate and reliable test for diagnosing COVID-19.

  • Respiratory system sample: nasopharyngeal swab.
  • It is the reference test; it is very accurate with very high sensitivity.
  • It is a viral test that detects the genetic material of the virus.
  • It requires high-tech equipment to process it.

 

Results:

  • A positive test means you likely have COVID-19.
  • A negative test means you probably did not have COVID-19 at the time of the test.

A negative result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of the test or that the test was taken at the beginning of the infection when the virus is not detectable and that it may be positive later.

Antibody Test

It is the test used to detect previous infections.

Blood is tested for antibodies that indicate if you had a COVID-19 infection.

This test should NOT be used to diagnose current COVID-19 infection, as it takes 1 to 3 weeks for the body to generate antibodies after infection.

Positive result:

A positive result shows that you have antibodies to an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

You can have a positive antibody test result even if you never had COVID-19 symptoms. This could happen if you had the infection without symptoms.

You should continue to use protective measures as it is not known how long the immunity lasts and you could be infected by the virus again.

Negative result:

It may indicate that you have never had COVID-19.

You can test negative even if you are infected, the body usually develops antibodies 1 to 3 weeks after infection. Also, some people take longer to create antibodies.

What are mRNA vaccines?

mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine that protects against infectious diseases. These vaccines teach our cells to produce a protein that triggers an immune response within the body. This immune response produces antibodies.

Antibodies are the ones that will defend us in case we have contact with the real virus.

Although it is a new technology in vaccines, they have been subjected to the same rigorous standards of safety and effectiveness as other vaccines.

An example of this type of vaccine are those produced by Pfizer and Moderna.

Do You Want to Know If You Have Covid-19?

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COVID-19 vaccination myths

Myth: “The vaccine contains a micro chip that has been developed to control people.”

FALSE

This myth is false since the vaccine has no microchip in it.

The vaccine CAN NOT access any personal information and it won’t be forced on people who don’t want it, nor does it contain a location-tracking microchip.

Finally, you won’t be protected from COVID-19 the moment you get your shot. It will take time and widespread compliance for life to go back to normal.

Myth: “If you get vaccinated you will get COVID-19.”

FALSE

It’s impossible for the vaccines to alter your DNA, make you infertile, or give you COVID-19.

mRNA vaccines work by telling the body to make a key protein in the coronavirus, which the immune system then attacks, training it to fight off the virus itself. They do not work by entering the body’s genetic material, which is physically impossible.

Myth: The vaccines aren’t safe because they were developed quickly.

FALSE

The COVID-19 vaccines themselves were developed quickly, but the clinical trials, which examine safety and efficacy, weren’t rushed at all. Safety was not compromised in any way. What happened quickly was finding the vaccine to test.

In the 1980s, it took scientists so long to do this, but thanks to scientific advances we’ve made over the years, we can find viruses so quickly. COVID-19 is similar to other coronaviruses we’ve seen in humans, like MERS and SARS, so there was previous research that could be used to speed up the process.

Myth: The vaccine can alter my DNA

FALSE

mRNA vaccines cannot alter your DNA.  mRNA vaccines work by telling the body to make a key protein in the coronavirus, which the immune system then attacks, training it to fight off the virus itself. They do not work by entering the body’s genetic material, which is physically impossible.

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