Frequently Asked Questions
Sources: CDC, CNN and MOPH.
What percentage of people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms? Are they still contagious?
- About four in five people with confirmed coronavirus in China were likely infected by people who didn’t know they had it, according to research published in the journal Science. Many people have the virus and are virtually asymptomatic, hence the rapid spread.
- For this reason, it is vital to observe social distancing and to test asymptomatic people for a true prevalence (the proportion of all those who were tested and proved positive).
Why worry about coronavirus when the flu kills many more people?
- Coronavirus is twice as contagious as the flu. Research indicates a person with the flu infects an average of 1.28 people. But with coronavirus, it’s likely to reach between two to three people.
- Coronavirus infections have a very high mortality rate – one in six – among people who are over 80 and people with underlying chronic diseases.
- People with coronavirus might not show symptoms for 14 days, and some show no symptoms at all. But during that time, they’re still contagious and can unknowingly infect others.
- A vaccine (and treatment) is available for the flu, but no vaccine (and so far validated treatment) is available for coronavirus. Experts say the number of flu deaths could be drastically reduced if more people got their flu shots.
When will social distancing end?
- When the daily number of new cases tapers off.
- Even then, continued measures will persist to control the spread until a treatment and/or vaccine is available, so don’t expect life to suddenly come back to normal all at once.
- The virus may come back in waves too, so expect to have recurring periods of social distancing if there is an uptick in the number of cases, until a vaccine is made available (more than likely one year away).
Can coronavirus spread through water, like in a pool or hot tub?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans in pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
Can high or low temperatures kill coronavirus?
Generally, coronaviruses survive for shorter periods at higher temperatures and higher humidity than in cooler or dryer environments. However, we don’t have direct data for this virus, nor do we have direct data for a temperature-based cutoff for inactivation at this point. Therefore, we are not yet sure whether the epidemic will taper off as the weather gets warmer.
Is it safe to get takeout from restaurants?
Yes, but you may want to wipe down the packaging and containers, just in case. There’s no evidence to suggest coronavirus is transmitted through food. It’s generally spread through respiratory droplets. But it’s a good idea to disinfect the takeout containers and wash your hands afterward.
For more on Coronavirus and food please check this link: https://www.lau.edu.lb/covid19/resources/coronavirus-food.php.
How long does coronavirus stay “alive” on surfaces?
Up to three days, depending on the surface. According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- The new coronavirus is viable up to 72 hours after being placed on stainless steel and plastic.
- It is viable up to four hours after being placed on copper, and up to 24 hours on cardboard.
- In aerosols, it remains viable for three hours.
If people can spread the virus without showing any symptoms, how can I tell who’s infected and who’s not?
You can’t because we are not testing everybody, so we can’t tell who has it and who doesn’t. That’s why it’s critical to avoid crowds, stay at least two meters away from others, wash or disinfect your hands, and stop touching your face.
How do I safely take care of someone who’s sick?
With limited testing nationwide, it may be difficult to know whether your loved one has coronavirus or another illness. So it’s critical to play it safe and not infect yourself and, in turn, others. When in doubt, or if your loved one has confirmed COVID-19, take the following precautions:
- Give the sick person their own room to stay in, if possible. Keep the door closed.
- Assign only one person as the caretaker.
- Ask the sick person to wear a face mask, if they are able to. If the mask causes breathing difficulties, then the caretaker should wear a mask instead.
- Deposit food at the door and keep the room well aired and sanitized.
What are the symptoms?
- Fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing are hallmarks of coronavirus.
- Symptoms may appear anywhere from two days to two weeks after exposure, although some patients haven’t shown symptoms at all.
- The illness varies in its severity, and many patients can recover at home in isolation.
- Older adults — ages 60 and older — and people with severe chronic illnesses are more likely to get seriously sick from the coronavirus.
How does it spread?
It primarily spreads between people through respiratory droplets (coughs, sneeze, or spittle). You can also get coronavirus by touching infected surfaces, then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
For more on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, please check this link.
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. When you speak, touch your face, then touch surfaces, you can contribute to spreading the virus. However, wearing a mask can do 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.
Can coronavirus go through skin and into the body?
A person could get infected 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. More often than not, people catch the 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.
How long is someone contagious after getting Coronavirus?
It varies. Decisions about when a person can be released from isolation are made on a case-by-case basis. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends releasing someone from isolation when all of these requirements are met:
- The patient is free from fever without the use of antipyretics.
- The patient is no longer showing symptoms (including a cough).
- The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
- Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others and should not be socially ostracized.
Do I need to wear a mask to prevent coronavirus?
- If you’re healthy, no. If you have the coronavirus or if you’re a family member or health worker caring for a coronavirus patient, then you should.
- Infectious disease experts are pleading with the healthy public to stop buying surgical face masks in bulk - which aren’t effective against coronavirus transmission - and N95 respirators, which should only be worn by medical professionals.
- The worry is, if the general public buys all available masks and respirators, there won’t be enough for the health workers charged with treating coronavirus patients.
- So if you need a mask because you’re a coronavirus patient or live with a coronavirus patient, then that’s fine, but not if you’re healthy..
No one from my family has been exposed to the virus, and no one is sick. Can we get together for a family dinner? There are 10 of us, ages four to 82.
No one can say for sure that they haven’t been exposed to the virus. Some carriers of coronavirus don’t have any symptoms at all. But they can still pass on the virus without knowing it. Asymptomatic transmission one of the ways this virus is spread. Infectious disease experts say those older than 60 are at much higher risk of getting seriously ill if they’re exposed to coronavirus. If you must socialize, it’s important to stay at least two meters away from others. Do not hug or kiss, wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, and do not touch your face.
Are kids more at risk?
Younger people seem to be insulated to some extent from getting particularly sick from this virus. We don’t really know why. But while children might have mild to no symptoms, they are vectors and can transmit the disease to others. Like everyone else, children should wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, stay at least two meters away away from anyone coughing or sneezing, and stop touching their faces. It is recommended that they distance themselves from older and more vulnerable family members for the time being.
Is coronavirus especially harmful for pregnant women?
There’s not enough data yet. “Adverse infant outcomes” like premature births have been reported among infants born to mothers who’ve tested positive for coronavirus during pregnancy, the CDC says. But it’s not clear if these outcomes were related to maternal infection, so the risk is unknown.
Should I disinfect my groceries? If so, how?
We suggest wiping down external surfaces of canned or wrapped foods and removing food from their packaging. You should wash your fruits vegetables with soap and water, and then wash and sanitize your hands when done.
Do I need to isolate myself if I’m not diagnosed?
Adults 60 and older and people with severe chronic illnesses are more likely to get very sick if they’re infected, so those people must stay at home as much as possible. Lebanon has issued nationwide quarantine to contain the virus, but after this phase is over, use caution when going in public. Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated buildings, and frequently wash your hands before, during and after your trip out. If you suspect you’re sick, or have recently returned from an area where an outbreak has been reported, stay home.