General Recommendations (Coronavirus / COVID-19)

General Recommendations (Coronavirus / COVID-19)

The new coronavirus, called Covid-19, was identified for the first time in December 2019, in China, in the city of Wuhan. This new agent had not been previously identified in humans, having caused  an outbreak in the city of Wuhan. The source of infection is still unknown. 

The Coronaviruses are a family of viruses known to cause disease in humans. The infection can be similar to a common flu or present as a more serious illness, such as pneumonia.

How is it transmitted?

Covid-19 is transmitted by close contact with people infected by the virus, or contaminated  surfaces and objects.

This disease is transmitted through droplets released by the nose or mouth when we cough or sneeze, which can directly reach the mouth, nose and eyes of those close to us.

Droplets can be deposited on objects or surfaces that surround the infected person. In turn, other people can become infected by touching these objects or surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth with their hands.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Infected people may experience signs and symptoms of acute respiratory infection such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

In more severe cases it can lead to severe pneumonia with acute respiratory failure, kidney and other organ failure and eventual death.

Is there a vaccine?

There is no vaccine. Being a recently identified virus, investigations are underway for its development.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

No, antibiotics are not effective against viruses, only bacteria. Covid-19 is a virus and, as such, antibiotics should not be used for its prevention or treatment. It will not work and may contribute to increased resistance to antimicrobials.

How can I protect myself?

In the affected areas, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends hygiene measures and respiratory etiquette to reduce the exposure and transmission of the disease:

  • Adopt respiratory etiquette measures: cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing (with tissue or elbow, never with your hands; always throw the tissue in the trash);
  • Wash your hands frequently. You should wash them whenever you blow, sneeze, cough or after direct contact with sick people;
  • Avoid close contact with people with respiratory infections.

Do I have to wear a face mask if I am in public?

According to the current situation in Portugal, the use of a mask for individual protection is required in public areas like public transportation and stores, and especially in the following situations: 

  • People with symptoms of respiratory infection (coughing or sneezing);
  • Suspected Covid-19 infection;
  • People who care for suspected Covid-19 infections.

What is a close contact?

It is a person with exposure associated with healthcare, including:

  • Providing direct care to patients with Covid-19;
  • Laboratory contact with samples of Covid-19;
  • Visits to the patient or stay in the same patient environment infected by Covid-19;
  • Close contact or contact in a closed environment with a patient with Covid-19 infection (example: classroom).