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COVID-19; Common questions

March 11, 2020

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses known to cause disease in humans. The infection can be similar to a common flu or present as a more serious illness, such as pneumonia. Infection with the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, appeared in China at the end of last year.

How is it transmitted?

COVID-19 is transmitted by close contact with people infected by the virus, or contaminated surfaces and objects.
This disease is transmitted through droplets released by the nose or mouth when we cough or sneeze, which can directly reach the mouth, nose and eyes of those close to us.


Droplets can be deposited on objects or surfaces that surround the infected person. In turn, other people can become infected by touching these objects or surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth with their hands.

What are the symptoms?

Infected people may experience signs and symptoms of acute respiratory infection such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
In more severe cases it can lead to severe pneumonia with acute respiratory failure, kidney and other organ failure and eventual death.

How is a suspected case identified?

At this point, a patient who meets the following criteria is considered a suspect case:
Acute respiratory infection (fever or cough or difficulty breathing) requiring or not hospitalization and

  • History of travel to areas with active community transmission in the 14 days before the onset of symptoms or;

  • Contact with a confirmed or probable case of infection by SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19, 14 days before the onset of symptoms or;

  • Health professional or person who has been to a health institution where patients with COVID-19 are treated.

What is the incubation period?

The incubation period is still under investigation.

How can you protect yourself?

In affected areas, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends hygiene measures and respiratory etiquette to reduce exposure and transmission of the disease:

  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough (with a tissue or elbow, never with your hands; always throw the tissue in the trash);

  • Wash your hands frequently. You should wash them whenever you blow, sneeze, cough or after direct contact with sick people;

  • Avoid close contact with people with respiratory infection

Is wearing a mask advisable?

According to the current situation in Portugal, the use of a mask for individual protection is not indicated, except in the following situations:

  • People with symptoms of respiratory infection (coughing or sneezing);

  • Suspects of COVID-19 infection;

  • People who care for suspected COVID-19 infections.

Is there a treatment and vaccine for Coronavirus?

The treatment of infection with this new Coronavirus is directed at the signs and symptoms presented. As a new virus, there is still no vaccine, and investigations for its development are ongoing.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating Coronavirus?

No, antibiotics are not effective against viruses, only bacteria. COVID-19 is a virus and, as such, antibiotics should not be used for its prevention or treatment. It will not work and may contribute to increased resistance to antimicrobials.

Were you close to someone with COVID-19 and have no symptoms?

If you do not have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing you should:

  • Avoid being around people for 14 days

  • Measure the temperature 2 times a day

Were you close to someone with COVID-19 and have symptoms?

If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing you should:

  • Call SNS 24 - 808 24 24 24 and follow the guidelines given

  • Avoid being around people

You have been in an area with active transmission, but you have no symptoms, should you perform tests for Coronavirus screening?

No. The performance of screening tests for asymptomatic patients is not validated, so any result would be inconclusive. In addition, it would be impossible to determine how high or how often the test would be performed.

Source: General Directorate of Health (DGS)

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