FAQs

Health

1. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but only have very mild symptoms.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around 1 out of every 5 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness. However, anyone can catch COVID-19 and become seriously ill. People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated withdifficulty breathing/shortness of breath, chest pain/pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical attention immediately. If possible, it is recommended to call the health care provider or facility first, so the patient can be directed to the right clinic.

2. What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Most countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and many are experiencing outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands. Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks 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 has the disease. Avoid going to crowded places. Why? Where people come together in crowds, you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COIVD-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and infect you. Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19. Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others. Why? Avoiding contact with others will protect them from possible COVID-19 and other viruses. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections. Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities. Why? Local and national authorities are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

3. How long does it take after exposure to COVID-19 to develop symptoms?

The time between exposure to COVID-19 and the moment when symptoms start is commonly around five to six days but can range from 1 – 14 days.

Travel

4. If I travel, what steps should I take to help reduce my chances of getting sick?

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Make sure you are up to date with your routine vaccinations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine.

5. Should travelers wear face masks or coverings?

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC recommends that everyone wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in the community setting, including during travel if they must travel. This as an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms. Medical masks and N-95 respirators are still reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

6. Is it safe to travel to visit family or friends?

CDC recommends you stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing. Traveling to visit friends and family increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. It is possible for someone to have COVID-19 and spread it to others, even if they have no symptoms. Getting infected may be especially dangerous if you or your loved ones are at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19. People at higher risk for complications need to take extra precautions.

Although it can be hard to remain apart from loved ones during challenging or stressful times, try to connect with them in other ways, using video chats or phone calls.

7. Should I cancel my international trip?

CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some health care systems are overwhelmed and there may be limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas. Many countries are implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and in-country travel may be unpredictable. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be disrupted, and you may have to remain outside the United States for an indefinite length of time.

CDC also recommends all travelers defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.

8. What can I expect when departing other countries?

Some countries are conducting exit screening for all passengers leaving their country. Before being permitted to board a departing flight, you may have your temperature taken and be asked questions about your travel history and health.

9. What is the risk of getting Covid-19 on an airplane?

Because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily. Although the risk of infection on an airplane is low, try to avoid contact with sick passengers, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

10. My flight is canceled, should I still go to the airport?

No. Please check flight status and contact Customer Service or your travel agent.

Sources: WHO, CDC and Airlines

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