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What is the coronavirus?

The coronavirus is a new and highly infectious virus. You can easily catch it from other people or pass it on to them.

The major symptoms are:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fever
  • muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • loss of sense of smell and taste
  • stuffy nose
  • sore throat
  • diarrhoea

If you have one of these symptoms, please call your doctor. Some people can have the virus without any symptoms.

Small droplets are released into the air when you cough or sneeze. This is how the virus can spread, by landing on things. The droplets can reach up to one metre on average. How do you get infected? By breathing in these droplets or if they reach your mouth, nose or eyes via your hands.

What should you do?

  • Respect the hygiene rules
  • Take your activities outside
  • Think about vulnerable people
  • Keep your distance (1,5m)
  • Limit your close contacts
  • Follow the rules on gatherings

There is no vaccine at present either. Doctors and scientists are currently researching the virus. They are analysing every person who gets ill and learning more every day. This will help them find the right treatment. If you are ill but not in hospital, then paracetamol is the best medicine for pain and fever.

Frequently asked questions

    What are coronaviruses?

    Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause infection in humans and various animals, including birds and mammals such as camels, cats and bats. Some animal coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are communicable from animals to humans. To date, it has been confirmed that seven coronaviruses can also cause infection in humans. When animal coronaviruses evolve, infect humans and spread between humans, this can lead to outbreaks such as MERS-CoV and SARS.

    More information: https://www.doctoranytime.be/en/t/chat-avec-docteur

    What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?
    The symptoms vary from a moderate to a severe respiratory tract disease with fever, cough and/or breathing difficulties. Other symptoms have also been reported: intense and sudden tiredness, loss of taste and/or smell, diarrhoea, cutaneous eruptions. Some persons are considered as being “at risk”, which means they are more vulnerable and likely to suffer from more severe symptoms. These are mainly elderly people and persons with serious chronic diseases.
    What should I do if I have symptoms?
    Stay home in isolation and contact your doctor by phone. Report your symptoms. Based on a specific procedure, the doctor will be able to make up whether you need to be tested.
    How can I avoid infecting the people around me? How can I avoid getting infected if someone around me is infected?
    What can I do to protect myself and protect the others?

    Everyone can contribute in the fight against the coronavirus! Certain persons, indeed, can be infected with the coronavirus without any symptoms, and therefore do not know they can transmit the virus. Apply the following hygiene measures:

    •    Stay home if you are sick.  
      
    •    Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.  
      
    •    Sneeze and blow your nose in a tissue handkerchief. Use each tissue only once and throw it away immediately in a covered rubbish bin.  
      
    •    You don't have a tissue? Sneeze or cough into your elbow.  
      
    •    Respect a minimum distance of 1.5 metre from other people.  
      
    •    Avoid shaking hands or kissing the persons you meet.  
      
    •    Wear a face mask in public transport and in very crowded places.  
      
    •    Pay attention to people who are considered as being at risk, such as elderly people over 65, people with diabetes or with a heart, lung or kidney disease and people with a weakened immune system.  
    How should I wash my hands?
    • Wash your hands, preferably with warm or lukewarm running water and liquid soap.
    • If you are on the road and cannot wash your hands, touch your face as little as possible and wash your hands on arrival.
    • If you don’t have water, soap and a towel nearby and still want to wash your hands, you can use alcohol gel.

    logo_handhygiene You can find instructions on how to wash hands properly online.
    Source: Your are in good hands
    (Campaign FPS Health Belgium)

    What does a coronavirus (COVID19) infection mean for a healthy person in their twenties, thirties or forties?
    The chance that a healthy person in their twenties, thirties or forties will get the coronavirus is just as high as the chance that someone else becomes infected by the virus. Hospital admissions and other complications related to the coronavirus are rare within this age group. However, complications are rare in this age group, which means that few people need to be hospitalised due to the coronavirus.
    Who is more at risk?
    • People over 65
    • Diabetics (type 2), in combination with obesity and/or problems with heart, lungs or kidneys.
    • People with heart, lung or kidney disease
    • People with weakened immune system.
    Are pregnant women more at risk?
    There is no scientific evidence that pregnant women are more vulnerable to this infection or to its consequences. It is reassuring that there are few pregnant women among the very ill. There are also very few serious cases of infection among women of childbearing age. There is no evidence that an infection during pregnancy has a negative effect on the fetus or that the virus can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy
    Are children more at risk of being infected?
    According to the data presently available, children play a limited role in the transmission of the coronavirus (in opposition to the influenza virus). They also have few risks of developing a severe form of the disease.
    I run a higher risk to become severely ill with the coronavirus, what should I do?
    Stay home as much as possible. Avoid contact with others outside your family and follow all hygiene measures carefully. It is also better for family members to avoid contacts with other people.
    How does the coronavirus spread?
    The coronavirus spreads from human to human via small droplets that are released when coughing and sneezing. Via these droplets, the virus ends up in the air, on objects and surfaces. Whoever inhales these droplets or gets them through their hands into their mouth, nose or eyes can become infected with the virus. There is no evidence that the contamination occurs through the skin. The risk of infection is reduced by keeping more than a metre away from sick people, touching one’s face as little as possible and paying attention to good hand hygiene.
    Is there a risk of infection through contact with objects and surfaces?
    This risk exists, but is much smaller than through direct contact with an infected person. In ideal conditions, the virus survives on average around three hours on smooth surfaces and materials (such as door handles, handrails, tables, etc.). On absorbent material (such as cardboard, paper, textiles, etc.) the virus cannot easily survive. The virus is highly sensitive to dehydration, heat and sunlight. Anyone who ingests virus droplets via contact with hands in their mouth, nose or eyes can become infected with the virus. It is important to wash hands regularly and thoroughly after contact with surfaces and packaging that have been touched by many people. As regards contamination via packaging materials and foodstuffs, more information is available on the site of the FASFC: http://www.favv.be/professionals/publications/communications/coronavirus.asp
    I am a train controller, a receptionist, I work at the airport desk: is it dangerous to constantly take objects from people?
    Taking and touching objects from people and passing them on is hard to avoid. Hence the importance to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Try to be especially careful to touch your face with your hands as little as possible.
    Can I be contaminated through food?

    To this day, food has not been identified as a probable source or route of transmission of the virus. In addition, coronaviruses are not highly resistant viruses in the environment and are rapidly inactivated when they end up on surfaces. In the current state of knowledge, the likelihood of a consumer becoming contaminated with Covid-19 through food is therefore very low and unproven. Whatever the case, the FASFC reminds professionals that compliance with good hygiene practices is essential and prevents most contaminations:

    • Prepare food separately, especially when handling raw meat,
    • Wash food preparation surfaces, especially those used for raw meat preparations, with soap and hot water,
    • Wash hands with soap and warm water between each handling of food,
    • Cook all raw meat sufficiently (70°C through for at least 2 minutes),
    • Avoid preparing food if you are sick.
    Can pets infect humans if they have been in contact with infected persons?
    The risk of contracting Covid-19 through contact with pets is currently considered negligible, as Covid-19 is mainly transmitted through close contact between humans. Even though Covid-19 is suspected to have originated from wild animals and has since adapted to humans (making it a ‘humanised’ virus), until now there is no evidence to suggest that pets pose a risk to humans due to the transmission of Covid-19. That is why we advise you to apply the general rules of hygiene (avoid close contact with your pet, especially if you are sick, wash your hands after touching an animal) if you come into contact with animals that may carry the virus for a brief period of time due to environmental contamination.
    Are there specific measures to be taken/observed in care homes?

    This is very important, as the elderly and people with a chronic disease are more at risk to develop a serious form of coronavirus. Therefore, it is important to pay special attention to them.The legislation on care homes is a competence of the regions. Please consult their recommendations: