Frequently Asked Questions

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19, is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was previously known as novel coronavirus. It is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The 2019 novel Coronavirus was initially identified in China at the end of 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from no symptoms to mild symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches to severe symptoms such as shortness of breath and severe pneumonia. 

Can I sanitize my hands with hand dryers or ultraviolet disinfection lamps? Are they effective in killing the new coronavirus?

No, these devices are not effective in killing the virus and should not be used to sanitize your hands. The best method is to wash your hands with soap and hot water. 

Are thermal scanners or thermometers effective in detecting people who have the infection?

Thermal scanners and thermometers can effectively detect fevers in people. In the right setting, this can be a sign of coronavirus infection. Fevers are a sign of infection in the body, but this is not always from coronavirus. They cannot detect possible coronavirus infection if the person does not have a fever yet. It can take up to 14 days for a person with coronavirus to develop a fever.  

Can I safely receive packages or letters from China or other affected areas? 

Yes, this is safe. Previous testing has shown coronavirus does not survive for extended periods of objects such as letters or packages. 

Should I get vaccinated against pneumonia and influenza? Will this protect me against the new coronavirus?

No, these vaccinations will not protect against coronavirus. A vaccine for coronavirus does not exist yet, but researchers are actively working on developing one. Vaccination against pneumonia and influenza is highly recommended to help protect against those specific respiratory illnesses. 

Should I spray or rub alcohol or chlorine over my body to kill any possible coronavirus on my skin?

No, treating your skin will not kill viruses that have already entered your body and respiratory system. Doing this can actually be harmful to your skin. These substances can be useful in cleaning other surfaces if used in the appropriate recommended way.

Can I get coronavirus from my pets at home? If I am sick, can my pet get the virus from me?

Currently there is no evidence of home pets transmitting the virus. It is always a good idea to wash your hands after dealing with pets to prevent the spread of other common bacteria. If you are sick with COVID-19, use similar precautions with pets as you would with humans.

Should I rinse my nose with saline to prevent getting the coronavirus? 

No, there is no evidence that rinsing your nose with saline water prevents respiratory infections and this will not protect you against coronavirus.

How long can coronavirus survive on surfaces?

Research on this new coronavirus is still ongoing, so no clear answer is known. This virus seems to behave like other coronaviruses, and previous studies suggest the virus may live on surfaces anywhere from a few hours to a few days. This may also vary depending on the type of surface and environmental conditions. The safest practice is to disinfect commonly touched surfaces or areas your suspect could be contaminated. While in public, avoid touching surfaces, clean hands with alcohol based sanitizer or wash with soap and water often and avoid touching for face, mouth, nose or eyes. 

Can herbal supplements or health foods help prevent infection with coronavirus?

No, there is no evidence herbal supplements or health foods (such as garlic, sesame oil, turmeric) prevent or treat coronavirus infection.  

Does the new coronavirus affect certain people or ages?  Am I at risk?

The virus can infect all people of all ages, gender, race and ethnicities. Older people, young children and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart conditions) can be affected more seriously.

Should I get a prescription for antibiotics to treat the new coronavirus?

No, antibiotics are not effective in treating viruses, including this new coronavirus. Antibiotics are useful in treating bacterial infections. Treatment for viruses consists of supportive care and managing the symptoms of the virus. It is possible in severe hospitalized cases of coronavirus to have a co-infection with bacteria, such as pneumonia. In these cases, antibiotics would be used. 

Are there any medications to treat or prevent the new coronavirus? 

There is currently no medication or vaccine to prevent contracting the new coronavirus. Medications used in the treatment of the virus are aimed at relieving symptoms, such as fever reducers and pain medications for body aches. 

Should I wear a mask when going out in public?

The CDC is now recommending cloth face coverings or masks (non medical masks) for all persons going out in public in the USA.  For country specific guidelines, please refer to your local Health Authority.

Will wearing multiple masks protect me better?

If you wear a mask, wearing it properly is most effective. Wearing multiple masks does not improve your protection and can cause difficulty breathing.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. For more and emerging information, please visit these sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

World Health Organization

Government of Canada
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