CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
QUESTION 1. WHY WASTE A TEST KIT ON A PERSON WITHOUT SYMPTOMS?
Some people with coronavirus show mild or no symptoms. And in some cases, symptoms don't appear until up to 14 days after infection.
During that incubation period, it's possible to get coronavirus from someone with no symptoms. It's also possible you may have coronavirus without feeling sick and are accidentally infecting others.
So, anyone who has had close contact with someone known to have coronavirus should ask a health care provider about getting tested, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Anyone who recently traveled to a part of the world where coronavirus is widespread should do the same.
QUESTION 2. HOW CAN SOMEONE PASS ALONG CORONAVIRUS WHEN ASYMPTOMATIC? IF NOT SNEEZING OR COUGHING, HOW CAN THEY INFECT OTHERS?
It's easy for asymptomatic people with coronavirus to spread the illness, said Dr. Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA's School of Public Health.
"Certainly, when you speak, sometimes you'll spit a little bit," Rimoin said. "You'll rub your nose. You'll touch your mouth. You'll rub your eyes. And then you'll touch other surfaces, and then you will be spreading virus if you are infected and shedding asymptomatically."
Doctors stress that the best way to prevent getting coronavirus is not by wearing face masks, since they often cause more harm than good.
Instead, people should wash their hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds and stop touching their faces - which is harder than it sounds.
QUESTION 3: CAN CORONAVIRUS GO THROUGH SKIN AND INTO THE BODY?
"It 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," the CDC says.
More often than not, people get coronavirus through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
"These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs," the CDC says.
The World Health Organization recommends staying at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from anyone who may be infected.
QUESTION 4. IF A CORONAVIRUS PATIENT DOES PROGRESS TO PNEUMONIA, WHAT ANTIBIOTICS IF ANY HAVE PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE?
No antibiotics are effective against coronavirus because the disease is a viral infection, not a bacterial infection.
"However, if you are hospitalized for the [coronavirus], you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible," the World Health Organization says.
There is no known cure for the coronavirus. Researchers are studying whether the antiviral drug Remdesivir might work, but testing of that drug just started.
For now, coronavirus patients get "supportive" treatment, "which means giving fluids, medicine to reduce fever, and, in severe cases, supplemental oxygen," the Harvard Medical School says.
Scientists are working on developing a vaccine. But it will take months before clinical trials start, and more than a year before a vaccine could become available.
QUESTION 5. IF INFECTED WITH CORONAVIRUS, CAN YOU SURVIVE IT AND RECOVER?
Absolutely. The vast majority of people with coronavirus survive.
Last week, Dr Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimated the death rate is "about 2%."
But the true death rate might be much lower, since some coronavirus survivors might not have been tested and might not have had their cases reported.
QUESTION 6. AFTER RECOVERING FROM CORONAVIRUS, DOES THE RECOVERED PATIENT HAVE IMMUNITY TO THE VIRUS?
It's too early to know for sure. But other coronaviruses, like ones that cause the common cold, might give us clues.
With "common cold coronaviruses, you don't actually have immunity that lasts for very long, and so we don't know the answer with this specific coronavirus," said Dr. Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the New York University School of Medicine.
"If you recover, are you immune? And if you are immune, how long does that last? And one of the challenges with designing a vaccine is how do you actually cause the immunity to last long enough to protect you."
QUESTION 7: WILL WARM WEATHER STOP THE OUTBREAK OF COVID-19?
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.
QUESTION 8: CAN CORONAVIRUS BE SPREAD THROUGH FOOD INCLUDING REFRIGERATED AND FROZEN FOOD
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
It 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.
In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.
QUESTION 9: WHAT IS COMMUNITY SPREAD
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
QUESTION 10: HOW CAN PEOPLE HELP STOP STIGMA RELATED TO COVID-19
People can fight stigma and help, not hurt, others by providing social support. Counter stigma by learning, sharing facts, and not disseminating conspiracy theories. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop stigma.
Courtesy CDC & CNN