Message from Dr. Luis Suarez
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are an extensive family of viruses that can cause disease in both animals and humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections that can range from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the most recently discovered infectious disease caused by the coronavirus. Both the new virus and the disease were unknown before the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may experience pain, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and appear gradually. Some people become infected but do not develop any symptoms and are not ill. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing any special treatment. About 1 in 6 people who get COVID-19 develop a serious illness and have trouble breathing. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2% of people who have contracted the disease have died. People with fever, cough, and shortness of breath should seek medical attention.
How is COVID-19 spread?
A person can get COVID-19 from contact with someone who is infected with the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through droplets from the nose or mouth that are thrown out when an infected person coughs or exhales. These droplets fall on objects and surfaces around the person, so other people can get COVID-19 if they touch these objects or surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. They can also be spread by inhaling droplets that a person with COVID-19 has spread by coughing or exhaling. So it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from an ill person.
Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?
Studies to date suggest that the virus causing COVID-19 is transmitted primarily by contact with respiratory droplets, rather than by air.
Is it possible to get COVID-19 from contact with a person who does not have any symptoms?
The main way of spreading the disease is through the respiratory droplets expelled by someone when coughing. The risk of getting COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms is very low. However, many people who get COVID-19 have only mild symptoms. This is particularly true in the early stages of the disease. Therefore, it is possible to get it from someone who, for example, only has a mild cough and does not feel sick.
What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of the disease?
There are several precautions that can be taken to reduce the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19:
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently using an alcohol-based disinfectant or soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based disinfectant kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Keep a minimum distance of 1 meter (3 feet) between you and anyone who coughs or sneezes.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes, droplets of fluid that may contain the virus are released from the nose or mouth. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets and with them the COVID-19 virus, if the coughing person has the disease.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, the hands can transfer the virus to the eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and cause illness.
Both you and those around you should make sure you maintain good airway hygiene. That means covering your mouth and nose with your elbow bent or with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. The used handkerchief should be discarded immediately.
Why? Viruses spread through droplets. By maintaining good respiratory hygiene, you are protecting people around you from viruses like the cold, flu, and COVID-19.
Stay home if you are not feeling well. If you have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, seek medical attention and call ahead. Follow the instructions of the local health authorities.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up-to-date information on the situation in their area. Calling ahead will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health center. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.
Stay informed about the latest news regarding COVID-19. Follow the advice of your healthcare provider, relevant national and local health authorities, or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up-to-date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are the most suitable interlocutors to give advice on what people in your area should do to protect themselves.
Check the latest news on the most dangerous areas (that is, the cities and places where the disease is spreading most widely). If possible, avoid moving to these areas, especially if you are elderly or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
Why? These precautions should be taken in these areas because the probability of contracting COVID-19 is higher.
Protective measures for people who are in areas where COVID-19 is spreading or who have visited them recently (in the last 14 days)
Follow the guidelines outlined above (Protective measures for all people)
Stay home if you start to feel unwell, even if it involves mild symptoms such as headache, mild fever (37.3 oC or higher), and mild runny nose, until you recover. If you need to leave home or receive a visit (for example, to get food), put on a mask to avoid infecting other people.
Why? Avoiding contact with other people and visits to medical centers will allow medical centers to work more effectively and help protect you and others from possible infections with the COVID-19 virus or others.
If you have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, seek medical advice quickly, as it could be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call ahead and inform your health care provider of any recent trips you have made or any contact you have had with travelers.
Why? Calling ahead will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health center.