COVID-19Best Practices: Reopening Institutions of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era
1) What is a Coronavirus?
Ans: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
2) What is COVID-19?
Ans: COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting many countries globally.
3) What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Ans: The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Dry cough and
- Difficulty in breathing
Some patients may complain of:
- Aches and pains,
- Nasal congestion,
- Runny nose,
- Sore throat
These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. Around 1 out of 6 who get COVID 19 can get breathing difficulty.
4) How does COVID-19 spread?
- Person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- These droplets can land on surfaces & objects. People can get infected if one touches these surfaces & then touches eyes, nose or mouth.
- Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with infected person (within about 6 feet).
5) Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through air?
- Studies to date suggests that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through air.
6) Can COVID-19 be caught from a person with no symptoms?
- COVID-19 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing or has other symptoms such as fever or tiredness.
- The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low.
- Many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true in the early stages of the disease.
- It is therefore, possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has just a mild cough and does not feel ill.
7) Can I catch COVID-19 from the feces of someone with the disease?
- The risk of catching COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person appears to be low.
- While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in feces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak.
- The ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings.
- Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating.
8) What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms & when should I seek medical help?
- If you experience such as a cough or a mild fever, stay at home, self-isolate and contact Medical Officer, SCHC on the Emergency Medical Services Number (EMS) for further advice.
9) Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others?
- Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease.
- For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure because the incubation period for this virus is 2 to 14 days.
- Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.
10) Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be spread through food?
- Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets.
- Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.
- Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for general food safety.
- Throughout the day use a tissue to cover your coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
- Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.
11) Can mosquitoes & ticks spread COVID-19?
- There is no evidence to suggest that this new coronavirus or other similar coronaviruses are spread by mosquitoes or ticks.
12) What is the difference between self-quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing?
- Quarantine means restricting activities or separating people who are not ill themselves but may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Isolation means separating people who are ill with symptoms of COVID-19 and may be infectious to prevent the spread of the disease.
- Physical distancing means being physically apart. World Health Organization recommends keeping at least 1-metre (3 feet) distance from others. This is a general measure that everyone should take even if they are well with no known exposure to COVID-19.
13) What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread?
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water for atheist 20 seconds.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others.
- Avoid going to crowded places.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Follow good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately in a pedal operated lidded bin and wash your hands.
- Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Contact Medical Officer, SCHC on the Emergency Medical Services Number (EMS) for further advice.
- Keep up to date on the latest information on COVID-19 hotspots (areas where COVID is spreading widely). If possible avoid travelling to such places.
14) How likely am I to catch COVID-19?
- The risk depends on where you are - and more specifically, whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there.
- The risk for people catching the infection is higher if they are living in, or visiting, the areas where COVID-19 has spread.
- Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings.
- It’s important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go.
15) Is it recommended to wear face masks?
- Centers for Disease Prevention & Control (CDC), US recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting.
- A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms.
- A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people must go into public settings (grocery stores, for example).
- Medical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.
- Wear a mask only if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19.
16) How to put on, use, take off and dispose off a mask?
- Remember, a mask should only be used by health workers, care takers, and individuals with respiratory symptoms, such as fever and cough.
- Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.
- Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip is)
- Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the coloured side).
- Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it moulds to the shape of your nose.
- Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin.
- After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.
- Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use.
- Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – Use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.
17) Am I at a risk for COVID-19 from mails, packages & parcels?
- It is unlikely to spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging.
- It may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
18) Should I use soap & water or hand sanitizer to protect against COVID-19?
- Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
19) Who is at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19?
- People aged 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, heart conditions, are immunocompromised, people with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥40), diabetes etc.
20) Can I get COVID-19 from my pets?
- At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
- A small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19.
- Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
21) Can I catch the virus from being in an enclosed space in close proximity to someone who doesn’t have respiratory symptoms?
- Since the virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets, the risk of catching it from somebody who is asymptomatic, even a contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, is low.
22) Is it safe to receive a package from an area where COVID-19 has been reported?
- Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
23) How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
- Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper and less than 24 hours on cardboard.
24) How to grocery shop safely?
- When grocery shopping, keep at least 1-metre distance from others and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
- If possible, sanitize the handles of shopping trolleys or baskets before shopping.
- Once home, wash your hands thoroughly and also after handling and storing your purchased products.
- There is currently no confirmed case of COVID-19 transmitted through food or food packaging.
25) How to wash fruit & vegetables?
- Fruits and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet.
- Wash them the same way you should do under any circumstance: before handling them, wash your hands with soap and water.
- Then, wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water, especially if you eat them raw.
26) Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?
- No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses; they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work.
27) Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
- Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019
- Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation.
- The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, avoid touching your eyes, mouth & nose, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing
28) Whether it is advisable to use sanitizing machine / tunnel to sanitize every person entering the Symbiosis premises?
- Spraying of individuals or groups is NOT recommended under any circumstances. Spraying an individual or group with chemical disinfectants is physically and psychologically harmful.
- Even if a person is potentially exposed with the COVID-19 virus, spraying the external part of the body does not kill the virus that has entered your body. Also there is no scientific evidence to suggest that they are effective even in disinfecting the outer clothing/body in an effective manner.
- Spraying of chlorine on individuals can lead to irritation of eyes and skin and potentially gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting. Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite can lead to irritation of mucous membranes to the nose, throat, respiratory tract and may also cause bronchospasm
- Additionally, use of such measures may in fact lead to a false sense of disinfection & safety and actually hamper public observance to hand washing and social distancing measures.
29) Whether staff should use hand gloves while on duty?
- Regularly washing of hands with soap and water for 20 seconds offers more protection against catching COVID19 than wearing gloves.
- The inappropriate use of gloves (without proper technique of removal & disposal) may increase the risk of germ transmission.
30) Whether we should use thermal gun (thermos scanners) to identify the person for probable case of COVID-19?
- Fever is not the only symptom of COVID 19
- It cannot detect coronavirus.
- If anyone has a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, body ache, head ache immediately seek guidance from SCHC MO & Stay home to self-isolate until he/ she recovers
31) Is there anything I should not do?
The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:
- Wearing multiple masks
- Taking antibiotics (self-medication)
- In any case, if you have fever, (cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your campus Medical Officer, SCHC.
- 1) World Health Organization
- 2) Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- 3) Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India (https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/FAQ.pdf)
- 4) United Nations (https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/covid-19-faqs)