The new coronavirus: Questions and answers for children and young people

Learn how to protect yourself, your family and your friends

Hands being washed with soap and water
11 March 2020

What is the new coronavirus?

The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus that has not been previously detected in humans. The first case of the virus was identified in Wuhan, China. The United Nations, public health authorities and partners are working to identify a vaccine for the virus.

How is the virus spread?

According to the World Health Organization, the new coronavirus has emerged from an animal source, but it is spreading from person to person. Human coronaviruses spread through drops (coughing and sneezing) and unprotected personal contact with an infected person (touch, squeeze).

What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus?

Common signs of infection with the new coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. If you want to know more about the symptoms of the new coronavirus, call toll free 0800800358.

How can I protect myself?

You can protect yourself like this: Wash your hands with soap, before and after the meal, after using the toilet and after using common objects that many people can reach (door lock, bus support bar). Avoid close contact with anyone who has symptoms of cold or respiratory infection. Seek medical attention if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

How can I protect others?

You can protect others by taking the following precautions: cover your mouth and nose with disposable napkins when you cough or sneeze and then throw it away. If you do not have a napkin at hand, cough or squeeze into the bend of the elbow. Wash hands with soap after coughing or squeezing. Avoid close contact with other people when you have cough and fever. Don't spit in public. Seek medical attention if a close person has a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

Information on viruses, pets and masks

Can pets spread coronavirus?

Currently, there is no evidence that pets, such as dogs or cats, can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, which can pass from pets to humans.

Does the new coronavirus affect more older or younger people?

People of all ages can be infected with the new coronavirus. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to severe illness with the virus.

Are antibiotics effective in the prevention and treatment of the new coronavirus?

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus is a virus and therefore antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized, you may be given antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

Are there specific drugs for the prevention or treatment of the new coronavirus?

To date, there is no specific drug recommended for the prevention or treatment of the new coronavirus. However, those infected with the virus should receive proper care for symptom relief and treatment, and those with serious illness should receive care and support.

Does the mask protect against the new coronavirus?

Medical masks cannot protect us against the new coronavirus if you do not even consider hand hygiene and other preventive measures. WHO recommends using masks in case of cough, fever and difficulty breathing and seek medical attention. You must wear a mask only if you are caring for a person suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus.

How to put on, use and remove the mask?

Before you put on your mask, disinfect your hands with alcohol solution or wash your hands with soap and water. Cover the mouth and nose with the mask and make sure there are no open spaces between the face and mask. Avoid touching the mask while using it. Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is moistened by breathing or nasal elimination and do not reuse the disposable masks. To remove the mask: remove it from the back (do not touch the front of the mask); immediately throw it in a closed basket; disinfect your hands with alcohol solution or wash them with soap and water.

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