A:Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Q: What is COVID-19?
A:COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting many countries globally.
A: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.
Q: How long does it take for symptoms of the COVID-19 to appear?
A: CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days, or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of viruses. There are isolated reports of individuals transmitting the infection to others before they develop symptoms. To be cautious, many governments are requiring an isolation period of 14 days for people returning from endemic areas.
Q: Should I be tested for COVID-19?
A: Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
Q: How is COVID-19 treated?
A: There is currently no FDA approved medication for COVID-19. People infected with this virus should receive supportive care such as rest, fluids and fever control, to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
A:While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials of both western and traditional medicines. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19 and will continue to provide updated information as soon research results become available.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to:
- Clean your hands frequently and thoroughly
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
- Cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue. If a tissue is used, discard it immediately and wash your hands.
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre from others.
Q: How can I best protect myself and patients?
A: Practice the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Standard household cleansers and wipes are effective in cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and CDC recommends getting vaccinated, taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antiviral if prescribed.
Q: Should I wear a face mask? Will that help protect me?
A: Masks do help to stop the spread of infection, so they can help if someone who is actively sick wears them. However, when it comes to COVID-19, it is unclear how effective protective masks are. Currently the CDC does not recommend masks for healthy individuals. If you are not sick and do not have symptoms, maintaining proper infection control such as frequent hand washing and cough etiquette is the best form of protection.
Cleveland Clinic’s Response and Preparedness for COVID-19
Q: How is Cleveland Clinic preparing for COVID-19?
A: We are closely monitoring this evolving situation and our clinicians are meeting regularly to continue to prepare. We are following CDC guidance. As part of this, we have added a screening question to identify patients who have recently traveled from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy or Japan. We are preparing should the need arise, following CDC and World Health Organization’s recommendations and protocols.
Q: Has Cleveland Clinic treated any patients with COVID-19?
A: As of March 2, 2020, Cleveland Clinic has not treated any patients with COVID-19. This applies to all Cleveland Clinic locations across the enterprise.
Q: Is Cleveland Clinic screening patients for COVID-19?
A: Yes, Cleveland Clinic is following CDC guidelines and asking all patients about recent international travel. As part of the intake process, questions regarding international travel have been added to outpatient visits. Travel screenings are part of the standard process for inpatients.
A:Self-isolation is an important measure taken by those who have COVID-19 symptoms to avoid infecting others in the community, including family members.
Self-isolation is when a person who is experiencing fever, cough or other COVID-19 symptoms stays at home and does not go to work, school or public places. This can be voluntarily or based on his/her health care provider’s recommendation. However, if you live in an area with malaria or dengue fever it is important that you do not ignore symptoms of fever. Seek medical help. When you attend the health facility wear a mask if possible, keep at least 1 metre distant from other people and do not touch surfaces with your hands. If it is a child who is sick help the child stick to this advice.
If you do not live in an area with malaria or dengue fever please do the following:
- If a person is in self-isolation, it is because he/she is ill but not severely ill (requiring medical attention)
- have a large, well-ventilated with hand-hygiene and toilet facilities
- If this is not possible, place beds at least 1 metre apart
- Keep at least 1 metre from others, even from your family members
- Monitor your symptoms daily
- Isolate for 14 days, even if you feel healthy
- If you develop difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider immediately – call them first if possible
- Stay positive and energized by keeping in touch with loved ones by phone or online, and by exercising yourself at home.