• Abhimanyu Kumar

COVID-19 questions and simple answers

Updated: May 31, 2020

WHAT IS A VIRUS? Viruses are like microscopically tiny predators equipped to invade the cells* of living things to use them as hosts so the virus can multiply. They can’t multiply without a host.

There are countless types of viruses and most are harmless to humans. Some cause mild illnesses and some are deadly.

WHAT ARE CORONAVIRUSES? These are a big family of viruses that can cause illness in animals, including in humans.

They are called coronaviruses because they look like a crown under a powerful microscope. Corona is crown in the Latin language.

The common cold is a type of coronavirus.

The most recently discovered coronavirus causes COVID-19.

WHAT IS COVID-19? COVID-19 is the name given to the infectious* disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease was unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

Scientists aren’t sure how it began to infect humans.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET COVID-19? Most common symptoms are fever, tiredness, and dry cough.

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.

Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.

Most people (about 80 per cent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

Older people, and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart or lung problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

WHAT IS A PANDEMIC? This is a word to describe a new disease that is spreading easily worldwide.

It comes from the Greek pan meaning all and demos meaning people.

The World Health Organisation* first called COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11.

HOW DOES COVID-19 SPREAD? People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus through small droplets* from the nose or mouth that are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or breathes out.

These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19.

IS THERE A VACCINE? Many, many teams of scientists around the world are working as fast as they can to study COVID-19 and make a vaccine to protect people from becoming ill.

Vaccines are a medicine that trick our bodies into developing immunity — natural protection — from a particular virus. If we are exposed to the virus, our body’s immune system has a head start at fighting it off and we don’t get sick or don’t get as sick as we would have.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID GETTING COVID-19? Follow the rules about staying away from people.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.

Don’t touch your face.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and put the tissue straight into the bin.

Do your best to stay healthy by going to bed on time, eating healthy food and exercising.

Source: World Health Organisation