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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions

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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP on April 9, 2020

Take the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
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Q:What is the Wuhan coronavirus?

A:The Wuhan coronavirus is a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

A novel virus is one that has not been previously identified in humans. The viral respiratory illness has been officially named 2019-nCoV or COVID-19 and has resulted in over 1.5 million confirmed cases and nearly 100,000 deaths worldwide, as of early April 2020.

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Q:Wuhan coronavirus is the same virus as SARS. True or false?

A:False.

The Wuhan coronavirus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) come from the same family of viruses (coronaviruses), but they are not the same virus. Coronaviruses encompass a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

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Q:The Wuhan coronavirus transmitted by bats. True or false?

A:False.

The 2019-nCoV virus is transmitted from person-to-person contact with an infected patient, frequently through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. There is no evidence the Wuhan coronavirus can spread from pets to people, and, despite a viral video claiming it can come from eating bat soup, this is not the case.

It is suspected that 2019-nCoV originated from an animal source (specifically, a snake) from a live animal market in China.

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Q:What are symptoms of Wuhan coronavirus?

A:2019-nCoV infection symptoms include:

Most people recover in a week or two. In rare cases, the illness can be fatal.

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Q:Who is at risk for contracting Wuhan coronavirus?

A:Those at highest risk for contracting 2019-nCoV include:

  • People who live in China where the majority of infections have been reported
  • People who have recently traveled to China
  • People who live or work with those who have been to China recently
  • Medical professionals who cared for patients before knowing the patient was infected with 2019-nCoV
The elderly and those with pre-existing illness such as diabetes and heart disease seem to be at higher risk for developing severe cases of Wuhan coronavirus.

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Q:The average incubation period for Wuhan coronavirus is about 5 or 6 days. True or false?

A:True.

The average incubation period (the time between infection and the onset of symptoms) for 2019-nCoV is estimated to be about 5-6 days but the entire incubation period ranges from 1 to 12.5 days and may be as long as 14 days.

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Q:Antibiotics can treat Wuhan coronavirus. True or false?

A:False.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, and the Wuhan coronavirus is no different. There is currently no specific medication to prevent or treat 2019-nCoV. Medications to relieve symptoms may be recommended.

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Q:A flu vaccine can prevent Wuhan coronavirus. True or false?

A:False.

The flu vaccine is designed prevent influenza, another respiratory virus. It will not prevent coronavirus. There is no current coronavirus vaccine.

However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting a flu vaccine and taking preventive measures to help stop the spread of germs.

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Q:Is it safe to receive a package in the mail from China? Yes or no?

A:Yes.

There is no evidence that receiving a package that originated in China will put people at risk of getting the Wuhan coronavirus. Coronaviruses tend not to survive for long on objects such as packages or letters. There have not been any reported cases of 2019-nCoV in the U.S. associated with imported goods.

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Q:The spread of Wuhan coronavirus can be prevented. True or false?

A:True.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection, so the best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure. Follow the same kinds of preventive actions you would for any virus:

  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • Stay home if you get sick
  • Avoid touching your face if you have not washed your hands
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash
  • Regularly clean and disinfect items and surfaces that are used often
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • If you show signs of 2019-nCoV or are a healthcare worker or a caretaker for someone infected, the Centers for Disease Control recommends using a facemask to prevent transmission of any virus you may have to others

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