COVID -19 Frequently Asked Questions
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What is the background of coronavirus (COVID-19)? China notified the world of the coronavirus in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which cause the common cold and can cause more serious, contagious infections such as SARS 2003 and MERS 2012. SARS-coV2 is the abbreviation for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. COVID-19 is the abbreviation for coronavirus disease 2019.
From where did it come? The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. COVID-19 is a novel virus which means of animal origin and is most likely from bats in Wuhan, China. Mutations of the virus have caused animal to animal transmission which mutated to human to human transmission.
Is there an immunity for this virus? The virus is new to human beings and there is no natural or acquired immunity. It is contagious, not human, and unrecognized by the human immune system.
Who is at risk of infection? All human beings are at risk of infection. Most at risk for severe illness and death are people over 65 years and older and people with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer or other types of immune compromise.
How do I catch it? The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html.
Who can be tested? The testing criteria include fever with symptoms, fever and age 65 and older, and healthcare professionals who actively care for patients. Others are tested based on local testing criteria.
What is the incubation period? The incubation period for this virus is 2 – 14 days from exposure. Those infected may be contagious with or without symptoms.
How do I protect myself? Practice good hygiene by washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when available or using hand sanitizer; cleanse surfaces; observe respiratory etiquette by coughing into your elbow or a tissue; and practice social distancing by staying six (6) feet away from others. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
What are symptoms of COVID-19? The most common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some people may be asymptomatic.
What is the treatment? There is no treatment at present. Research is ongoing. Supportive care is recommended.
How do I lessen the impact? Self-quarantine for 14 days if you have been exposed to the virus and isolate if you have tested positive for COVID-19.
What is the risk of infection? Most infections are mild and can be treated at home; however, severe illness may require hospitalization and can lead to death.
When is a vaccine coming? Private industry, government and academic centers are working together to develop a vaccine. The estimated timeline for availability in humans is approximately 12-18 months.
Information for Pregnant and Nursing Women
Are pregnant women more susceptible to infection, or at increased risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality with COVID-19, compared with the general public?
We do not have information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Pregnant women also might be at risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality compared to the general population as observed in cases of other related coronavirus infections [including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)] and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, during pregnancy. Pregnant women should engage in usual preventive actions to avoid infection like washing hands often and avoiding people who are sick.
Are pregnant women with COVID-19 at increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes?
We do not have information on adverse pregnancy outcomes in pregnant women with COVID-19. Pregnancy loss, including miscarriage and stillbirth, has been observed in cases of infection with other related coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) during pregnancy. High fevers during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of certain birth defects.
Are pregnant healthcare personnel at increased risk for adverse outcomes if they care for patients with COVID-19?
Pregnant healthcare personnel (HCP) should have a risk assessment done by their OB provider and follow infection control guidelines for HCP exposed to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Adherence to recommended infection prevention and control practices is an important part of protecting all HCP in healthcare settings. Information on COVID-19 in pregnancy is very limited; so if HCP may want to consider limiting exposure to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, especially during higher risk procedures (e.g., aerosol-generating procedures).
Can pregnant women with COVID-19 pass the virus to their fetus or newborn?
Vertical transmission includes transmission of a pathogen from a mother to her fetus or newborn before, during, or immediately after delivery. Transplacental transmission occurs during pregnancy when maternal virus is transmitted across the placenta. Perinatal transmission occurs at the time of delivery when the newborn comes into contact with maternal bodily fluids during delivery, or breastfeeding. Limited information is available about vertical transmission for other coronaviruses (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV) but vertical transmission has not been reported for these infections.
Is maternal illness with COVID-19 during lactation associated with potential risk to a breastfeeding infant?
Human-to-human transmission by close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 has been reported and is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when a person with infection coughs or sneezes. In limited case series reported to date, no evidence of virus has been found in the breast milk of women with COVID-19. No information is available on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through breast milk,. Additionally, in limited reports of lactating women infected with SARS-CoV, virus has not been detected in breast milk; however, antibodies against SARS-CoV were detected in at least one sample.
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) CDC.gov
(National Institutes of Health) NIH.gov
(World Health Organization) WHO.int
(Johns Hopkins) coronavirus.jhu.edu
(New England Journal of Medicine) nejm.org/coronavirus