COVID-19 FAQs

Updated: April 15, 2020

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.

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.

Coronavirus has high infectivity but low mortality. The mortality rate ranges from 6-7%. It is significantly less severe than the 2003 SARS or 2012 MERS outbreaks. The risk of death is higher in older people and people with pre-existing health conditions. WHO estimates that 80% of cases are mild or asymptomatic, that 15% are severe and 5% critical.

Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.

An infected person can spread the infection to a healthy person via droplets produced while coughing or sneezing. These droplets can directly reach a healthy person or live on surfaces that people touch.

No, there is no such evidence as of yet. Experience with other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS suggests that people do not get infected through food.

No, there is no such evidence as of yet. The coronavirus is not known to spread directly through poultry products but experts say it can be a good option to have only properly cooked or well-done meat.

You can suspect to have coronavirus if you have symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, plus any of the below:

  • Recent travel history abroad
  • Close contact with a person who may have recently returned from abroad
  • Visiting a healthcare facility or lab where coronavirus Patients are being cared for.

Common cold symptoms:

Colds come on gradually and the most common symptoms are a stuffy nose, sore throat, and sneezing. They sometimes also include a cough and fatigue. Fever and headaches are rare.

Seasonal flu symptoms:

According to the CDC, symptoms of the flu are abrupt and can include fever or feeling chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting or diarrhea, though it’s more common in children.

COVID-19 symptoms:

The most common symptoms of this illness are fever and cough. Shortness of breath is also a hallmark symptom. A small percentage of Patients also experienced nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. The vast majority of Patients with a severe case of COVID-19 will experience it as one of the worst colds or flu-like illnesses they have ever had. Immunocompromised individuals or those with a weak immune system are more at risk for developing a more severe version of COVID-19.

Age & pre-existing conditions

Elderly people (age > 60) and people with other chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease are at more risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19  that requires supplemental oxygen treatment or ventilation. If you or someone in your circle of close contacts is at high-risk it’s recommended that you closely follow social distancing and hygiene protocols during the pandemic to avoid infection. 

Smoking

Adults who regularly smoke cigarettes, cigars, or marijuana, are already at a higher risk for severe upper respiratory infections. Only one of these things can increase someone’s chances of developing a more severe case of COVID-19

  • Major respiratory distress
  • Chest pains
  • Delirious or confused speech

No, testing for coronavirus is done as recommended by doctors only if someone falls under the definition of a "suspected case".

According to the CDC, these are the primary indications that you should get tested for coronavirus. If you have one or more of the below symptoms, you should seek medical advice from your doctor and based on her/his recommendation, get tested:

  • Fever over 100 degrees
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Respiratory distress
  • Came in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • History of travel to or residence in a country or location reporting community transmission of COVID-19 disease during the 14 days prior to symptom onset
  • Came in close contact with someone who returned from abroad in the last 14 days prior to symptom onset

If you are sick and have symptoms of COVID-19, speak to your doctor. If your doctor thinks you could be a suspected case, s/he will refer you to one of the government approved hospitals. The hospital will then do their own assessment on whether you require testing or not.

If you think you need to be tested, directly contact the government lab IEDCR at 01937110011, 01937000011, 01927711784, 01927711785, 01944333222, 01550064901, 01550064902, 01550064903, 01550064904, 01550064905 or Dhaka Shishu Hospital at 880-2-9128308, (PABX) 9104211 - 9104220, 9117512.

There are currently 11 hospitals which are now treating COVID-19 Patients:

  • Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital (Uttara, Dhaka)
  • Kurmitola General Hospital (Kurmitola, Dhaka Cantonment)
  • Bangladesh Railway General Hospital (Kamlapur, Dhaka)
  • Dhaka Mahanagar General Hospital (Motijheel, Dhaka)
  • Mirpur Maternity Hospital (Mirpur, Dhaka)
  • Kamrangirchar 31 Bed Hospital (Lalbagh, Dhaka)
  • Aminbazar 20-bed Hospital (Savar)
  • Jinjira 20-bed Hospital (Keraniganj)
  • Sajida Foundation Hospital (Jurayn, Dhaka)
  • Dhaka Medical College and Hospital
  • Sheikh Rasel Gastro Liver Institute & Hospital (Mohakhali, Dhaka)
  • National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital (NIDCH)

There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for coronavirus as of yet. For those diagnosed with coronavirus, symptomatic treatment is provided to Patients. Following are the medication prescribed for the symptoms:

  • Fever - paracetamol
  • Runny or stuffy nose - antihistamine
  • Cough - cough syrup

Patients are asked to take rest, get enough sleep, and eat a healthy diet.

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). For this reason, it is recommended to wash your hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer after coming in contact with shared surfaces in public spaces (e.g., elevator buttons, handrails).

While there have been instances of a dog being infected in Hong Kong and a tiger testing positive for the virus in the United States that had a respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.

There is no science-based evidence that proves the ability of garlic to protect against the coronavirus.

Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between you and others to avoid contracting or spreading illness. Staying at least 3 feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19. If you must be around people, keep 3 feet (1 meter) of the distance between you and other people.

According to the CDC, quarantine means restricting the movement of people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These individuals are asymptomatic but have either traveled to an area with an active outbreak of the virus or have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19. Self-quarantining helps to closely monitor the development of symptoms, if any, while preventing further transmission of the virus. Those who are asked to self-quarantine will be told to stay home and avoid contact with others for 14 days.

According to the CDC, isolation refers to separating sick people with a contagious disease from the rest of the population. Self-isolation helps individuals to recover from the virus without spreading it to others. Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 should remain isolated until the risk of secondary transmission is considered low, which should be decided by healthcare providers.

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses like COVID-19. They only work against bacteria. The new coronavirus is a virus and so antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

Unfortunately, the flu shot is not effective against this virus. But it will help protect you from the flu.

The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is still unclear. Many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms especially at the early stages of the disease. It is definitely possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.

The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person and other people can then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing hands with soap and warm water as the top way to clean your hands. But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can also help.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control:

  • It is recommended you wear a cloth face covering or home made mask every time you go out especially in public settings such as grocery stores or pharmacies.
  • Facemasks are in short supply and they should only be saved and worn by caregivers.

Masks protect other people from exhalations by COVID-19 patients, but cloth face coverings will protect from ‘apparent’ (asymptomatic) healthy people spreading the virus. Breathing air at close proximity may be contagious.

Surgical masks protect the user from splashes of body fluids, as well as protecting others from the user's own contamination of bacteria or viruses present in mucus and saliva. But they are not designed to provide a tight seal against the user's face and smaller particles may not be properly filtered through the mask's layers.

N95 respirators are solely designed to reduce and prevent the user's exposure to airborne contaminants. Unlike the surgical masks, N95 respirators come in various sizes and should be selected based on how it fits the user's face in order to create a tight seal.

If you fall sick with fever, cold, cough, and congestion, please stay at home and inform your family doctor. If your symptoms remain the same and don’t get worse or you don’t have serious shortness of breath, continue to stay indoors, take rest, eat a healthy diet, and support your immune system to fight this illness. You should also buy enough medicines for your symptoms to limit your visits to the pharmacy.

Once you or anyone tests positive for COVID-19, an assessment will be made on whether it is a mild, moderate, or severe case. For cases that range between mild to moderate, IEDCR will explain everything you need to know and provide guidelines on symptomatic treatment - paracetamol for fever, antihistamine for runny nose, cough syrup for cold. Along with guidelines on staying in self-quarantine for 2 weeks and how to interact with other members of the family or those you may share your home with. For severe cases, hospitalisation will be required at any of the government approved hospitals for COVID-19 treatment. 

Even after symptoms resolve, you will need to have two negative tests in a row to be released from quarantine.

During this time, you can take the following steps to boost your immune system:

  • Take Vitamin C supplements everyday
  • Meditate
    • Meditation has also been shown to help people with insomnia improve sleep
    • Those who sleep less than seven hours a night are almost three times more likely to develop the common cold than those that sleep over eight hours.
  • Exercise and get moving
    • Walk or do free hand exercises and stretches indoors, you can find many variations online
    • If possible, you may also walk on your rooftop but make sure to maintain 3 feet distance from others and wear a face mask.

For suspected Patients with symptoms of COVID-19, we have built a dedicated quarantined assessment room on level 1. However, we do not have the capacity to keep any Patient overnight or for an extended period of time in the quarantine room. If the Patient is not suspected of COVID-19, s/he is taken to the family doctor’s consultation room on level 2 for a regular consultation

Yes, we are currently offering the below telehealth consultation options:

  • Free screening call with family doctors

If you or anyone you know is worried or suspect that you may have COVID-19, directly call our hotline at 10648 (anytime between 8am-10pm) to talk to Praava family doctors for free.

  • Video Consultations with family doctors

You or any Praava Patient can now have video consultations with our family doctors, by calling our hotline at 10648 (anytime between 8am - 10pm) and booking an appointment slot. The video consultations are done via Google Hangouts and can be done with a smartphone or laptop. This service is not only for those suspecting of COVID-19 but for all Patients, including those with chronic conditions, to reduce their risk by coming in person to Praava or any healthcare facility.

It is recommended to avoid all nonessential travel to destinations with coronavirus disease travel health notices.

Yes, it is in Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID), Chattogram

Warm temperatures and higher humidity may slow down SARS-CoV-2 spread. There are a few studies already suggesting this, but given that we only learned about the virus a few months ago, we are still learning about it and nothing is yet 100% conclusive about this theory.

Very little information is there so far as possible mutation rates in SARS-CoV-2 are not known yet. It's known that the virus is made up of 30,000 bases and one or two bases mutate per month. That is about 2 to 4 times slower than the flu. Also, the University of Glasgow calculates 111 mutations in all the sequences analyzed so far, none of them had any functional significance as per transmission rates. If we extrapolate from that, in 1.5 years there may be thousands of changes in the virus genome. There are multiple scenarios that are probable including development (naturally) of a more aggressive or less aggressive strain. It's difficult this early to predict anything but vaccines may have to be generated seasonally - just like the flu vaccine. Generally, it is thought that a vaccine will be possible to prevent SARS-CoV-2.

This is medical advice to be given by the doctor to a specific Patient. In general, there is no prescription drug that can shorten the length of a common cold. Drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen can ease symptoms. Since we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is advisable to take acetaminophen or paracetamol first and observe the progression of symptoms and get medical advice in case symptoms are not relieved.

Yes, the WHO recommends keeping a distance of 3 feet or 1 meter; and the CDC recommends maintaining a distance of 6 feet or 2 meters. The more distance you keep between you and others, the safer.

Various sources suggest various "facts". Please be careful and fact check if possible. The New England Journal of Medicine tested and found that under some conditions, some strains of coronavirus survive in the air for 2-3 hours. There are some instances where the virus could become airborne, which include the use of the lavatory by people who are sick with COVID19, and when patients are being resuscitated in hospital. It is thought that in most cases, the virus does not remain airborne for long. Research is ongoing to learn more.