What are coronaviruses?

  • Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that cause respiratory and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms. 
  • They consist of a core of genetic material surrounded by an envelope with protein spikes which look like a crown. Crown in latin is “corona”, hence the name coronavirus.

Where did the virus come from? 

  • Previously discovered types of coronaviruses were transmitted to humans from animals (eg. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) from camels, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) from civet cats). 
  • The 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was discovered in China on 31 Dec 2019.The first few COVID-19 cases were associated with a seafood & live animals market in Wuhan.

How does it spread?

  • We don’t know the exact dynamic. 
  • But in general, the disease is transmitted through (a) DROPLETS created when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or (b) something that has been contaminated with the virus. 

Who is most at risk of getting the virus? 

  • Those in close contact with animals (eg. live animal market workers). 
  • Those caring for those with the virus (eg. family members or healthcare workers).

Respiratory symptoms: 

  • From what is known so far, symptoms can range from mild to severe.
  • Mild: fever, cough, shortness of breath, or the common cold. 
  • Severe: pneumonia, kidney failure, SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, death.

Incubation period

  • The COVID-19 can incubate in the body for 2-14 days after exposure before actually causing any symptoms. 


  • According to WHO, the most accurate way to test whether or not you have COVID-19 (that we know of so far) is to ask a healthcare professional to conduct a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which reliably identifies the virus’ genetic fingerprint. 

Below is a summary of things that you can do to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Between people:

  • Standard hygiene practices: cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing using a medical mask, tissue or flexed elbow. 
  • Avoid close contact with those who are unwell.
  • Appropriate use of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), especially in health care settings (eg. hospitals). 
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. 
  • Stay home if you are unwell. But if you have the symptoms of fever, cough & difficulty breathing, seek medical care early! 

From animals to people:

  • Avoid unnecessary, unprotected contact with animals.
  • Wash your hands after contact with animals or animal products.
  • Ensure that animal products are cooked thoroughly before they are consumed. 

The WHO has created some informative posters with a more detailed explanation on how you can prevent transmission of the disease.

Do I need to wear a mask?

  • Yes if you have the symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever and difficulty breathing).
  • No if you do not have the symptoms, because there is no evidence that face masks can protect people who are not sick. 
  • Yes if you are healthy but are taking care of a person who may be infected with COVID-19, at least whenever you are in the same room as that person.

How to use a mask properly:

  1. Before putting on a mask, wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  2. Locate the metal strip at the top of the mask and place it over your nose bridge. Make sure that the mask covers your mouth and nose and that there are no gaps between your face and the mask. Secure the elastics around your ears (or tie the strings behind your head). 
  3. To remove the mask, remove it from behind and discard it immediately in a closed bin. Wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Other things to note:

  • Do not touch the font of the mask while using or removing it. If you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If your mask becomes damp or humid, replace it with a new, dry mask.
  • Do not re-use single-use masks.
  • Wearing a mask alone is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It must be combined with proper personal hygiene care (see the previous tab).
  • Why must you dispose of used masks properly? Because the germs that are left on it could become a source of infection.

At the moment, there is no specific medication or vaccine to protect against the virus. But we thought it would be helpful to bust some myths about COVID-19 remedies.

All the information here, and much more, can be found at these links: