What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease – is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms can include:
- dry cough
- shortness of breath
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal.
These symptoms are a lot like the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19. It’s important to remember that key prevention measures are the same – hand washing often, and covering your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throwing away the tissue into a closed bin. Also, there is a vaccine for the flu – so remember to keep yourself and your child up to date with vaccinations.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is spread mainly when droplets from an infected person (made from coughing, sneezing, talking, singing) get into the mouth, nose or eyes of people who are close by. People may also become infected by touching their mouth, nose or eyes after touching surfaces virus on them. The COVID-19 virus may also survive on surfaces for a few hours to several days, although simple disinfectants can kill it.
COVID-19 can be transmitted during and before someone shows symptoms.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe and effective?
Yes, even though COVID-19 vaccines have been developed as rapidly as possible, they must go through rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and effectiveness. Only if they meet these standards can a vaccine receive validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies.
Do the COVID-19 vaccines work against the new variants?
Experts around the world are continuously studying how the new variants affect the behaviour of the virus, including any potential impact on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. But in the meantime, the important thing to do is to get vaccinated and continue measures to reduce the spread of the virus – which helps to reduce the chances for the virus to mutate – including physical distancing, mask wearing, good ventilation, regular handwashing and seeking care early if you have symptoms.
I’ve been vaccinated, do I still need to get tested for COVID-19?
If you have been fully vaccinated but are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your doctor about whether you should get tested.
How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?
Recent surges of COVID-19 in some countries are a reminder of the importance of continuing to take precautions. Here are some things you and your family can take to help avoid infection:
- Avoid crowded places, confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, and try to practice physical distancing from people in public, keeping at least 1 metre distance between yourself and others
- Wear a mask when in public places where there is community transmission and where physical distancing is not possible
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub (Read: Everything you need to know about washing your hands to protect against COVID-19)
- Keep all indoor spaces well ventilated
- Cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissue immediately
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like phones, doorknobs, light switches and countertops
- Seek medical care early if you or your child has a fever, cough, difficulty breathing or other symptoms of COVID-19
Should I wear a medical mask to protect against COVID-19?
The use of a medical mask is advised if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) to protect others, or if you are caring for someone who may have COVID-19.
If masks are worn, they must be used and disposed of properly to ensure their effectiveness and to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus. Disposable face masks should only be used once.
The use of a mask alone is not enough to stop infections and must be combined with frequent hand washing, covering sneezes and coughs, and avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing, fever).
There’s a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 online. What should I do?
There are a lot of myths and misinformation about COVID-19 being shared online. Get verified facts and advice from trusted sources like your local health authority, the UN, UNICEF, WHO.
If you see content online that you believe to be false or misleading, you can help stop it spreading by reporting it to the social media platform.
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