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WHAT IS COVID-19? 

 

As the coronavirus causing COVID-19 is genetically similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus), it will be referred to hereinafter using its official term SARS-CoV-2.

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is most likely of animal origin, but studies are still ongoing to confirm the source and transmission methods.

COVID-19 symptoms are nonspecific and their severity can vary. The disease can run its course without symptoms of illness, but infection can also include severe pneumonia, and for people in risk groups, in worst case, the illness can end in death.

For most people infected with the coronavirus, the illness runs its course without complications and they get well. It is important to point out that the virus risk group includes the elderly and people with chronic diseases, who exhibit the severe forms of the disease more frequently.

In most cases, coronaviruses spread in the form of a droplet infection (through coughing or sneezing) and via close contact. In rarer occasions, the virus may also spread via contaminated surfaces. Based on currently available information, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can last for up to three days at room temperature. On the other hand, it is possible to remove the virus from surfaces by using efficient cleaning methods and detergents.

Heating, UV radiation, and several antimicrobial substances, such as 70% ethanol, 75% 2-propanol, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium hypochlorite, which kill the virus if they are left on the surface for at least one minute, have an effect against various coronaviruses.

Advice for efficient cleaning and disinfection » (PDF)

 

HOW DOES COVID-19 DIFFER FROM INFLUENZA?

 

In addition to the spread of the coronavirus, this is also the flu season.  Therefore it is very important to be able to distinguish between coronavirus (COVID-19) and influenza. Although there are still very many unknown factors regarding COVID-19, two main aspects of the disease can be compared. According to the information known today, the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to flu symptoms.

COVID-19

SYMPTOMS
Coronavirus – headache, loss of smell, blocked nose, cough, tiredness and weakness, muscular pain, runny nose, loss of taste, throat pain, fever, breathing difficulties, chest pain, speech and movement disorders.
Most cases of COVID-19 infection are not serious.



VIRUS SPREAD
Coronavirus is more infectious than influenza. Each person infected with the COVID-19 virus infects an average of 2.2 people.

MORBIDITY
In case of coronavirus or influenza infection, people aged over 60 with weakened immune system and/or chronic diseases are at the highest risk.  Co-morbidity increases the disease risk.
Children infected with coronavirus usually have mild symptoms or do not have any symptoms.

MORTALITY
COVID-19 mortality varies from region to region and depends on age and other factors. the most vulnerable were the elderly.
Although COVID-19 mortality is not exactly known, most studies show that it is higher than the influenza mortality.

TREATMENT
No specific treatment or any approved antiviral medicine exists yet for COVID-19. Doctors can therefore recommend the usual measures: rest, take medicines to reduce pain and fever, and consume fluids to prevent dehydration. There are vaccines available that will inoculate against COVID-19, but these are currently available only to a limited extent. 

PREVENTION
You should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to prevent any flu-like viruses, including COVID-19, avoid contact with your face if hands are unwashed, avoid contacts with sick people, stay at home in the case of illness, and disinfect surfaces and objects you touch daily.



SEASONALITY
It is not known whether and how the weather affects the COVID-19 virus. Even if the spread of the COVID-19 virus declines in the spring, it may return in the autumn.

FLU 

SYMPTOMS
Flu - fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, runny or blocked nose, fatigue, sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea.
The flu symptoms have a sudden onset. Most patients recover within less than two weeks. In some patients flu may cause serious complications, including pneumonia. The prevalence of flu is very similar every year.

VIRUS SPREAD
Every person infected with the influenza virus infects an average of 1.3 healthy people.


MORBIDITY
In case of coronavirus or influenza infection, people aged over 60 with weakened immune system and/or chronic diseases are at the highest risk.  Co-morbidity increases the disease risk.
Influenza is much more dangerous for children, especially very young children who can fall severely ill.

MORTALITY
Although COVID-19 mortality is not exactly known, most studies show that it is higher than the influenza mortality.




TREATMENT
The mortality of influenza would be higher if there were no treatment and vaccination. For the treatment of influenza, there are several prescription medications that have a good impact if they are taken within one or two days of the onset of symptoms. There are also medicines that are given to prevent flu for people who have been in contact with the virus carrier.

PREVENTION
You should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to prevent any flu-like viruses, including COVID-19, avoid contact with your face if hands are unwashed, avoid contacts with sick people, stay at home in the case of illness, and disinfect surfaces and objects you touch daily. There are vaccines available that will inoculate against influenza which are widely available and will ensure a certain level of immunity.

SEASONALITY
In the case of influenza, a pattern is observed that the spread of the disease decreases in the spring and returns in the autumn when the weather gets colder.

 

 SYMPTOMS

 

COVID-19 symptoms are nonspecific and their severity can vary. The disease can run its course without symptoms of illness, but infection can also include severe pneumonia, and for people in risk groups, in worst case, the illness can end in death.

For most people infected with the coronavirus, the illness runs its course without complications and they get well. It is important to point out that the virus risk group includes the elderly and people with chronic diseases, who exhibit the severe forms of the disease more frequently.

Droplet infection is the main mode of transmission, the virus spreads mainly through close contact with a person who has symptoms characteristic to the infection, especially cough.

The incubation period of the virus is about 2-14 days.

 

The main symptoms are:

  • headache
  • loss of smell 
  • blocked nose
  • cough
  • tiredness and weakness
  • muscular pain
  • runny nose 
  • loss of taste
  • throat pain
  • fever

In severe cases, you may develop:

  • breathing difficulties
  • chest pain
  • speech and movement disorders

If you have at least one of the following symptoms:

  • a cough
  • a temperature above 38°C
  • breathing difficulties
  • throat soreness

Assess the situation and act as follows depending upon your health condition:

  • Mild or moderate symptoms - stay at home, monitor your condition, and self-isolate.
  • Serious symptoms (a temperature above 38°C, or a cough) - stay at home and call the family physician advisory line (1220) or your family physician.
  • Critical health condition (breathing difficulties and in need of emergency assistance) - call the emergency number: 112.
  • You have come into close contact with an individual who has been infected with COVID-19 - stay at home, monitor your condition, and self-isolate.

Filling in the coronavirus self-assessment questionnaire may also be useful »

     

    FALLING ILL

     

    How can you avoid being infected with coronavirus and what should you do if you suspect you have been infected?

    • Wash your hands. Hands should be washed with soap under running water, hand disinfectants should be used if needed.
    • Social distance. Avoid coming too close to individuals who cough or sneeze. If you are standing too close to someone who exhibits signs of the disease, you may also fall ill.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with contaminated hands, there is a chance of transmission of the virus.
    • If you have a temperature, cough, and/or breathing difficulties, seek help early. Monitor your health and stay at home. Call your family physician on a weekday or the family physician advisory line on ☎️ 1220  (+372 634 6630 also for calls from abroad), between 8:00am and 5:00pm on weekends. The physicians who respond to your calls to the family physician advisory line can only issue referrals for those individuals who are suspected to have the disease who can be identified by a Smart ID or Mobile ID solution.
    • If you experience mild symptoms of a respiratory disease, observe the regular hand hygiene requirements carefully and, if possible, stay at home until you are well.
    • Observe respiratory hygiene. When you sneeze or cough, please cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue. Immediately safely dispose of the used tissue and clean your hands. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (or part of your forearm), not your bare hand, to cover your mouth.
    • Wear a mask! Covering your mouth and nose prevents the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze into your open hand, you may end up spreading germs and viruses to other people and to the objects that you touch.
     

    If any symptoms present themselves (a cough, a temperature, or breathing difficulties), please contact your family physician or the family physician advisory line ☎️ 1220 (+372 634 6630 also for calls from abroad) to receive further instructions.

    If you have any coronavirus-related questions, please call the alarm centre’s free information line ☎️ 1247 (+372 600 1247 also for calls from abroad) which is available around the clock.

    If you experience any breathing difficulties or shortness of breath, please call the emergency number ☎️ 112.

     

    Self-isolation

    Self-isolation is a preventive measure which helps to avoid the spread of an infectious disease. The less people move around and the less social contact they have, the smaller is the threat of infection. The required self-isolation period is 10 days, because signs of the disease should manifest within this period. If you develop any symptoms, please stay at home until you have recovered or call for an ambulance if your health condition deteriorates.

    In most cases, the disease which is caused by coronavirus passes quite easily. However, elderly people and individuals who have a weaker immune system are at risk, and the signs of the disease may develop into severe pneumonia in such cases. By staying at home, we help to keep these individuals safe from the virus.

    If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or suspect that you may have fallen ill, please stay at home and contact your family physician if you develop any symptoms. Avoid contact with others, follow the rules of hand and respiratory hygiene, and have everything that you need delivered to your home in a contactless manner, if possible. Your mental health is also important: do not allow yourself to become isolated. Communicate with your loved ones by using various communications channels (such as Facebook, Skype, or other applications which allow you to talk to others, as well as see them). Create a habit of communicating with other people on a daily basis (if you are not already doing so). Communication is especially important while self-isolating. You should also make sure that coronavirus is not your main conversation topic. 

     

    CORONAVIRUS RISK GROUP

     

    The risk group for this virus includes the elderly as well as people with chronic disease, who often experience the more severe forms of the disease. 

     

    Why do we need to take special care to protect elderly people and people with chronic diseases?

    • Coronavirus infection can be more severe in people over 60 years of age or in people with chronic conditions. Their body may be weaker due to a decline in the function of the immune system and the disease may turn out to be more severe if such a person is infected.
    • Examples of chronic diseases include diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, tumours, asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases, chronic kidney and liver diseases, and immunodeficiency.
    • Coronavirus spreads from person to person via droplets, mainly in close contact with a sick person. Given the weaker immunity of the elderly and people with chronic conditions, and the main way in which the virus is spread, it is essential to avoid contact with these groups of people as much as possible.
    • Furthermore, it is not advisable to take your healthy children to their grandparents, because if the children should fall ill, the grandparents are at high risk.

    Advice for the protection of at-risk groups

    • It is not advisable to have the grandparents over to baby-sit your children even if the children are healthy, as the grandparents will be at greater risk if the children do fall ill.
    • Avoid visiting care homes, as this would endanger the health of the residents in those homes.
    • Before meeting a person at risk, make sure you are safe from infection and ensure safety when visiting: wear a mask, keep your distance, and clean your hands and surfaces.
    • Social welfare institutions must ensure safe opportunities for contact and non-contact communication for people belonging to the risk group.
    • Transferring residents in care homes from one home to another should also be avoided and new residents should not be accepted if possible. In the case of an elderly individual who requires care it would be advisable to contact the local municipality authority for the person in question in order that they can receive the required services at home.
       

      The Health Board advises that any family gatherings, parties, and other events should be postponed or cancelled

      We recommend cancelling all joint events, which are attended by people who do not come into contact on a daily basis. 

      If holding an event is unavoidable then as few people as possible should attend and all safety and security guidelines which have been issued by the Health Board must be followed. If necessary, the Health Board’s specialists can be consulted for advice.

      It is a good idea to wear a mask in enclosed, crowded spaces and on public transport. An indoor space should be considered crowded if you cannot keep the required two-metre distance from other individuals. Covering your mouth and nose helps to prevent the spread of germs. Wear a mask and be sure to follow the user instructions. Medical masks must be worn with the coloured side on the outside. Wearing a mask is not an alternative to other measures which reduce the risk of being infected, such as washing your hands or covering your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or your sleeve when you sneeze or cough.