Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the symptoms? How can you tell the difference between coronavirus and a cold or (flu)?
The symptoms are similar, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. To diagnose a potential case, healthcare professionals may use a COVID-19 diagnostic test and/or run tests to rule out flu and other infections. Individuals with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe illness. Some individuals who are infected may not have symptoms, others require ventilator support, and many have died. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and may include:
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- muscle pain or body aches
- sore throat
- new loss of taste or smell
- congestion or runny nose
- nausea or vomiting
- What are the symptoms in children?
Children with COVID-19 may have mild, cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough, and some children experience vomiting and diarrhea. Occasionally, a child gets really sick after being infected with COVID-19.
- a fever that will not go away
- abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting
- rash or changes in skin color
- pink or red eyes
- trouble breathing
- the child seems confused or overly sleepy
- How is the novel coronavirus transmitted?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person (within about 6 feet). It can be spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Recent studies have indicated that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms, which is why face masks are recommended.
- Are individuals contagious before they develop symptoms?
There is evidence that the novel coronavirus can be spread before an individual develops symptoms. This poses a problem because people who do not know they are infected may continue to go to work, school, and other public places. People who are sick and have symptoms are more likely to stay home, which means fewer opportunities for the virus to spread from one person to another. When asymptomatic transmission occurs, infection control experts and public health officials may need to take additional measures, such as social distancing, isolating patients, or using quarantines.
- What should individuals do if they think they may have been infected?
Those who think they may have been exposed to coronavirus, either through travel to an affected area or close contact with someone who has a confirmed case, should call a healthcare professional if they have any of the symptoms. It is important to call first, so that the clinic or hospital can prepare and prevent the spread of infection. Stay home and away from other people if you might have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Who is at greatest risk of serious illness?
Although COVID-19 can affect anyone, individuals at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include the following:
- Older adults (the older people are, the higher their risk for severe illness)
- People with chronic medical conditions like kidney disease, sickle cell disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and lung disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Those living in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] >30)
- Those who have a weakened immune system from solid organ transplant
- Others who may be at risk of more severe illness include people who have asthma, high blood pressure, neurologic conditions such as dementia, cerebrovascular disease such as stroke, people who are pregnant, or those who are immunocompromised due to cancer treatment and other conditions.
- How does COVID-19 affect pregnant women?
Pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the intensive care unit, and receive mechanical ventilation than non-pregnant women; however, pregnant women are not at greater risk for death from COVID-19. Pregnant women should get vaccinated against whooping cough and influenza (flu) during each pregnancy to protect themselves and their baby, with immunity for the first few months of life.
- What can individuals do to protect themselves?
Everyone should practice the following healthy habits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other respiratory viruses:
- Stay home as advised by state and local public health officials
- Wear a cloth face covering if you do go out
- Practice social distancing—stay at least 6 feet apart
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Clean and disinfect common objects and surfaces daily
- When will a vaccine for COVID-19 be available in Kenya?
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent COVID-19, but clinical trials are underway and a vaccine for COVID-19 could be available as soon as 2021, if all steps go as planned. More than 30 vaccine candidates are in various stages of testing around the world to evaluate their safety and effectiveness.
- How can individuals who have chronic health conditions protect themselves from COVID-19?
Follow the recommended preventive steps: Stay home as advised, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. If you have a chronic medical condition like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or lung disease, you should also:
- Continue taking your medications
- Have at least a two-week supply of all prescription (and non-prescription) drugs
- Talk to a healthcare professional to make sure you are up-to-date on all recommended vaccines, including vaccines to protect against influenza and pneumococcal disease
- Do not delay emergency care because of COVID-19. If you need emergency help, call 719.
- Do face masks protect against COVID-19?
Face masks can help prevent an infected individual from spreading the virus. It is recommended to use breathable cloth such as 100 percent cotton, with two layers of fabric for optimal filtering. When held up to a bright light, the fabric should not let a lot of light shine through. Face coverings should:
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops
- Allow for breathing without restriction
- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
- Face masks are not recommended for children less than two years of age or by individuals who have trouble breathing or who cannot easily remove them.
- Remember: Face masks are not a substitute for other preventive measures—continue to wash your hands properly, avoid touching your face, and maintain social distancing (stay at least 6 feet apart from others) in conjunction with wearing face masks in public spaces.
- What are the best cleaners to remove germs?
It is important to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis. Detergent or soap and water can be used to clean surfaces. To disinfect, use diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, or common household disinfectants, which are effective in killing this virus and can be used safely. Hand hygiene is most important because hands are an important means of transmission for this virus. There are many things that we cannot control but we can wash hands and keep them away from our faces.
- What tests are available to detect COVID-19?
- Molecular tests are used to detect the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Molecular tests are fairly accurate and can be used to diagnose the disease.
- Antigen tests are a new category of tests that can quickly detect fragments of the virus from nasal swabs. Antigen tests can provide results in minutes, but they are not as sensitive as molecular tests. Positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but negative results may need to be confirmed with a molecular test.
- Antibody (or serology) tests detect the body’s immune response to COVID-19 by looking for antibodies in the blood to help determine prior exposure. When the body is fighting an infection or has fought an infection, antibodies can be found in the blood. These tests do not detect the actual virus but are used to identify people who have been infected with the virus in the past.
- Are there any treatments available for COVID-19?
Talk to your healthcare professional about treatments that may be available for you.
- Is it safe to get routine medical care?
Many routine medical visits can be provided virtually via telemedicine or home delivery. However we recommend that you attend your regular reviews and clinics. Necessary protocols have been put in place for your safety as you visit the hospital. If you have a specific issue that needs attention, call the Outspan hospital on 0722 696901. You will be advised accordingly . In an emergency, call 719
- What is social distancing?
Deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least 6 feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching or spreading COVID-19.
- Is it dangerous to be outdoors?
Going out for a walk is good exercise and may be psychologically beneficial. But, wear a face covering and maintain at least a 6-foot distance between others. Individuals who have a chronic health condition such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, as well as older adults are at greater risk for complications from COVID-19 and should be extra careful around others—either indoors or outdoors.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that cause diseases in animals and humans. They often circulate among animals and can sometimes evolve and infect people. In humans, the viruses can cause mild respiratory infections, like the common cold, but can lead to serious illnesses, like pneumonia. A novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes the disease Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerged in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization characterized the outbreak as a pandemic.