Facts About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 has led to a lot of misinformation being spread around. We had a chat with one of the scientists in our peer group and asked him some questions about the virus.

Sumantra Chatterjee

Q1. How is Corona virus different from other viruses? Let’s say a common cold?
- Coronaviruses (COVID-19) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COVID-19). This strain which is now going around is very contagious and spread very rapidly among humans.

Q2. Why is it spreading so quickly across the globe?
- This virus is by nature more contagious. Spread by respiratory droplets and contact with infected surfaces–On average, an infected person will spread the infection to 2-3 other people. Much higher rate of infection than common cold. Plus in our globalized world we travel more and come in contact with people from all over the world.

Q3. What are the best ways to stay safe?
- Best way is to wash any exposed surface of body thoroughly with soap and water. Specially hands which we use to touch surfaces. Avoid close contact with people, like shaking hands, maintain some distance between people (ideally 2-3 feet if possible). Avoid crowded places.

Q4. Some specific questions about India: Is true that the virus will die in hot weathers?
- It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

Q5. Is it true that only babies and people above the age of 60 will die from it?
- No. Though it is true that older people are at more risk, but a wide range of people are at risk. People with Chronic heart, lung, liver, kidney diseases; diabetes, poorly controlled high blood pressure, cancer.

Q6. Can cow urine / cow dung protect us from Corona Virus?
- NO. please do not fall prey to this kind of misinformation. The only thing that can protect you from the virus is taking precautions, avoiding close contact with people and washing your hands regularly.

Q7. Why is social distancing advised to stay safe from corona virus?
- When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Q8. How does washing hands protect us from Corona virus?
- Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Q9. How can I know if I am infected by Corona Virus?
- The only way to be sure is to get tested for the virus. But if you show symptoms of flu – fever, body ache, dry cough, please quarantine yourself and call your local doctor for advice. Please avoid contact with vulnerable members of your family like older relatives, sick people.

Q10. What Can I do if I am infected by Corona Virus?
- If you are young and healthy, the best remedy is rest and increased fluid intake. But if you feel the symptoms worsening please contact your nearest doctor for advice. If you are older or have underlying preexisting conditions, please contact your doctor immediately.