Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
The World Health Organization (www.who.int) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) have published important information regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. WHO first learned of this new virus on 31 December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China.
Protect yourself and others from COVID-19
If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Check local advice where you live and work. Do it all!
What to do to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19
Maintain at least a 1-metre distance between yourself and others to reduce your risk of infection when they cough, sneeze or speak. Maintain an even greater distance between yourself and others when indoors. The further away, the better.
Make wearing a mask a normal part of being around other people. The appropriate use, storage and cleaning or disposal are essential to make masks as effective as possible.
How to make your environment safer
Avoid the 3Cs: spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact.
Outbreaks have been reported in restaurants, choir practices, fitness classes, nightclubs, offices and places of worship where people have gathered, often in crowded indoor settings where they talk loudly, shout, breathe heavily or sing.
The risks of getting COVID-19 are higher in crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected people spend long periods of time together in close proximity.
Meet people outside. Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor ones, particularly if indoor spaces are small and without outdoor air coming in.
What to do if you feel unwell
Know the full range of symptoms of COVID-19. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes, diarrhea, or a skin rash.
Stay home and self-isolate even if you have minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Call your health care provider or hotline for advice. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house or have someone near you, wear a medical mask to avoid infecting others.
If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Call by telephone first, if you can and follow the directions of your local health authority.
Information on vaccines
There are three COVID-19 vaccines for which certain national regulatory authorities have authorized the use. None have yet received WHO EUL/PQ authorization but we expect an assessment on the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December and for some other candidates soon thereafter.
Large studies of 5 vaccine candidates efficacy and safety results have been publicly reported through press releases but only one has published results in the peer reviewed literature. There are many potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in development. More information about COVID-19 vaccine development is available here.