SAINT ALBERT CHARITY RESPONDS TO COVID-19 IN CAMEROON

Expanded campaign to educate, provide face masks and jackets, and sensitize commercial bike riders across some towns of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon on the dangers of COVID-19 and ways of protecting themselves and their passengers

Empowering grassroots women leaders with knowledge and skills to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their local communities of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon. These women are our peer educators in these communities, raising awareness on spread prevention and distributing live saving gadgets including but not limited to wash hand basins, soap, hand sanitizers, sanitary pads, masks and posters.

COVID-19 alert

Common questions

How dangerous is the coronavirus disease?
Although for most people COVID-19 causes only mild illness, it can make some people very ill. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people and those with pre- existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes) appear to be more vulnerable.

Which are the first symptoms of the coronavirus disease?
The virus can cause a range of symptoms, ranging from mild illness to pneumonia. Symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, sore throat and headaches. In severe cases difficulty in breathing and deaths can occur.

What is the recovery time for the coronavirus disease?
Using available preliminary data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and is 3-6 weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.

Who is at risk for coronavirus?
The virus that causes COVID-19 infects people of all ages. However, evidence to date suggests that two groups of people are at a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 disease. These are older people (that is people over 60 years old); and those with underlying medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer). The risk of severe disease gradually increases with age starting from around 40 years. It’s important that adults in this age range protect themselves and in turn protect others that may be more vulnerable.

WHO has issued advice for these two groups and for community support to ensure that they are protected from COVID-19 without being isolated, stigmatized, left in a position of increased vulnerability or unable to access basic provisions and social care.

Is headache a symptom of the coronavirus disease?
The virus can cause a range of symptoms, from ranging from mild illness to pneumonia. Symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, sore throat and headaches.

Can antibiotics treat the coronavirus disease?
No, antibiotics do not work against viruses. The 2019-nCOV is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

Are masks effective against the coronavirus disease?
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

Can the coronavirus disease spread through food?
Current evidence on other coronavirus strains shows that while coronaviruses appear to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a certain period, food hygiene and good food safety practices can prevent their transmission through food.

What is the treatment for the coronavirus disease?
There is no specific treatment for disease caused by a novel coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore treatment based on the patient’s clinical condition.

Is the coronavirus disease more severe than the flu?
COVID-19 causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza.

While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease.

Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far less than 1% of those infected.

What is the incubation period of the coronavirus disease?
The incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus (becoming infected) and symptom onset, is on average 5-6 days, however can be up to 14 days. During this period, also known as the “pre-symptomatic” period, some infected persons can be contagious. Therefore, transmission from a pre-symptomatic case can occur before symptom onset.

Can people recover from coronavirus disease?
You can recover from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Catching the new coronavirus DOES NOT mean you will have it for life. Most of the people who catch COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies.

Can babies get the coronavirus disease?
We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children.

What happens when you get the coronavirus disease?
People with COVID-19 generally develop signs and symptoms, including mild respiratory symptoms and fever, on an average of 5-6 days after infection (mean incubation period 5-6 days, range 1-14 days). Most people infected with COVID-19 virus have mild disease and recover.

Can coronavirus spread through mosquito bite?
To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.

Can the coronavirus disease be transmitted in hot or humid climates?
From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

Can cold weather and snow prevent the coronavirus disease?
Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.
There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases.

Can you contract the coronavirus disease by touching a surface?
People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Can the coronavirus spread via feces?
There is some evidence that COVID-19 infection may lead to intestinal infection and be present in faeces. However, to date only one study has cultured the COVID-19 virus from a single stool specimen. There have been no reports of faecal−oral transmission of the COVID-19 virus to date.

Is coronavirus a bacteria or virus?
The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Are smokers more prone to getting the coronavirus disease?
Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth.

Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness. Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouth pieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings.

Do vaccines against pneumonia protect against the coronavirus disease?
No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.

Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.

What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. 2019-nCoV is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans and causes COVID19/coronavirus disease.

Are there specific medicines to prevent or treat the coronavirus disease?
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care.

What is the usual body temperature in coronavirus disease patients?
The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.

Is there asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus disease?
An asymptomatic laboratory-confirmed case is a person infected with COVID-19 who does not develop symptoms. Asymptomatic transmission refers to transmission of the virus from a person, who does not develop symptoms.

There are few reports of laboratory-confirmed cases who are truly asymptomatic, and to date, there has been no documented asymptomatic transmission. This does not exclude the possibility that it may occur. Asymptomatic cases have been reported as part of contact tracing efforts in some countries. WHO regularly monitors all emerging evidence about this critical topic and will provide an update as more information becomes available.

What is the mortality rate of the coronavirus disease versus influenza?
Mortality for COVID-19 appears higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza. While the true mortality of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand, the data we have so far indicate that the crude mortality ratio (the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases) is between 3-4%, the infection mortality rate (the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections) will be lower. For seasonal influenza, mortality is usually well below 0.1%. However, mortality is to a large extent determined by access to and quality of health care.

Which are the most common symptoms of the coronavirus disease?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia.

What are signs and symptoms of the coronavirus disease?
Signs and symptoms include respiratory symptoms and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and sometimes death.

Standard recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include frequent cleaning of hands using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water; covering the nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or disposable tissue when coughing and sneezing; and avoiding close contact with anyone that has a fever and cough.

Is temperature screening effective to detect the coronavirus disease?
Temperature screening alone, at exit or entry, is not an effective way to stop international spread, since infected individuals may be in incubation period, may not express apparent symptoms early on in the course of the disease, or may dissimulate fever through the use of antipyretics; in addition, such measures require substantial investments for what may bear little benefits. It is more effective to provide prevention recommendation messages to travellers and to collect health declarations at arrival, with travellers’ contact details, to allow for a proper risk assessment and a possible contact tracing of incoming travellers.

What preventative measures can I take against the coronavirus disease?
To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
  • Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.

Should blood centers routinely screen blood products for COVID-19 virus?
No, although RNA fragments of SARS-CoV-2 were detected in blood of symptomatic COVID-19 patients, this does not mean that the virus is viable/infectious. In general, respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion. Blood centers should have routine blood donor screening measures in place to prevent individuals with respiratory symptoms or fever from donating blood. As precautionary measures, blood centers might encourage self-deferral of those with travel history to an COVID-19 affected country in the previous 14 days, or of those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Do people develop immunity to the coronavirus disease after being infected?
There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection. The development of immunity to a pathogen through natural infection is a multi-step process.

Is the coronavirus disease airborne transmitted?
According to current evidence, COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes. In an analysis of 75,465 COVID-19 cases in China, airborne transmission was not reported.

Do people with mild symptoms need to be hospitalized?
No. For patients who have mild illness, e.g., low-grade fever, cough, malaise, rhinorrhoea, sore throat without any warning signs, such as shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, increased respiratory (i.e. sputum or haemoptysis), gastro-intestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhoea and without changes in mental status, hospitalization may not be required unless there is concern for rapid clinical deterioration. All patients discharged home should be instructed to return to hospital if they develop any worsening of illness. For more information on admission criteria, please click here.

What is the difference between the coronavirus and the influenza virus?
The speed of transmission is an important point of difference between the two viruses. Influenza has a shorter median incubation period (the time from infection to appearance of symptoms) and a shorter serial interval (the time between successive cases) than COVID-19 virus. The serial interval for COVID-19 virus is estimated to be 5-6 days, while for influenza virus, the serial interval is 3 days. This means that influenza can spread faster than COVID-19.

Further, transmission in the first 3-5 days of illness, or potentially pre-symptomatic transmission –transmission of the virus before the appearance of symptoms – is a major driver of transmission for influenza. In contrast, while we are learning that there are people who can shed COVID-19 virus 24-48 hours prior to symptom onset, at present, this does not appear to be a major driver of transmission.

Is there a vaccine for the coronavirus disease?
When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a number of years for a new vaccine to be developed.

Can a coronavirus be transmitted from person to person?
Yes, some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household workplace, or health care centre.

Are people living with HIV at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19?
People living with HIV with advanced disease, those with low CD4 and high viral load and those who are not taking antiretroviral treatment have an increased risk of infections and related complications in general. It is unknown if the immunosuppression of HIV will put a person at greater risk for COVID-19, thus, until more is known, additional precautions for all people with advanced HIV or poorly controlled HIV, should be employed.

At present there is no evidence that the risk of infection or complications of COVID-19 is different among people living with HIV who are clinically and immunologically stable on antiretroviral treatment when compared with the general population. Some people living with HIV may have known risk factors for COVID-19 complications, such as diabetes, hypertension and other noncommunicable diseases and as such may have increased risk of COVID-19 unrelated to HIV. We know that during the SARS and MERS outbreaks there were only a few case reports of mild disease among people living with HIV.

To date, there is a case report of a person living with HIV who had COVID-19 and recoveredand a small study on risk factors and antiretrovirals used among people living with HIV with COVID-19 from China. This study reported similar rates of COVID-19 disease as compared to the entire population and increased risk with older age, but not with low CD4, high viral load level or antiretroviral regimen[4]. Current clinical data suggest the main mortality risk factors are linked to older age and other comorbidities including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and hypertension. Some very healthy people have also developed severe disease from the coronavirus infection[5].

PLHIV are advised to take the same precautions as the general population:

* wash hands often
* cough etiquette
* physical distancing
* seek medical care if symptomatic
* self-isolation if in contact with someone with COVID-19 and
* other actions per the government response

People living with HIV who are taking antiretroviral drugs should ensure that they have at least 30 days and up to 6-month supply of medicines and ensure that their vaccinations are up to date (influenza and pneumococcal vaccines). Adequate supplies of medicines to treat co-infections and comorbidities and addiction should also be ensured.

How do viruses get their name?
Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines. Virologists and the wider scientific community do this work, so viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).

What are the types of coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

What vaccines are available for the coronavirus disease and influenza?
While there are a number of therapeutics currently in clinical trials in China and more than 20 vaccines in development for COVID-19, there are currently no licensed vaccines or therapeutics for COVID-19. In contrast, antivirals and vaccines available for influenza. While the influenza vaccine is not effective against COVID-19 virus, it is highly recommended to get vaccinated each year to prevent influenza infection.

How does the coronavirus disease spread?
Data from published epidemiology and virologic studies provide evidence that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from symptomatic people to others who are in close contact through respiratory droplets, by direct contact with infected persons, or by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces.

Are special hospitals needed for COVID-19 patients?
No. Current WHO recommendations do not include a requirement for exclusive use of specialized or referral hospitals to treat suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease patients. However, countries or local jurisdictions may choose to care for patients at such hospitals if those are deemed the most likely to be able to safely care for patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV infection or for other clinical reasons (e.g., availability of advanced life support). Regardless, any healthcare facility treating patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV patients should adhere to the WHO infection prevention and control recommendations for healthcare to protect patients, staff and visitors.

What is the meaning of COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’

How many people with the coronavirus disease are asymptomatic?
For COVID-19, data to date suggest that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical infections, requiring ventilation.

How long does Coronavirus stay on surfaces?
There is currently no data available on stability of 2019-nCoV on surfaces. Data from laboratory studies on SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV have shown that stability in the environment depends on several factors including relative temperature, humidity, and surface type. WHO continues to monitor existing evidence around nCoV and will update when such evidence is available.

How to disinfect houses of COVID-19 patients?
Environmental cleaning in healthcare facilities or homes housing patients with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV infection should use disinfectants that are active against enveloped viruses, such as 2019-nCoV and other coronaviruses. There are many disinfectants, including commonly used hospital disinfectants, that are active against enveloped viruses. Currently WHO recommendations include the use of:

* 70% Ethyl alcohol to disinfect reusable dedicated equipment (e.g., thermometers) between uses
* Sodium hypochlorite at 0.5% (equivalent 5000ppm) for disinfection of frequently touched surfaces in homes or healthcare facilities

Can antiretrovirals be used to prevent COVID-19 infection?
Two studies have reported the use of LPV/r as post-exposure prophylaxis for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. One of these studies suggested that the occurrence of MERS-CoV infection was lower among health workers receiving LPV/r compared to those who did not receive any drugs; the other study found no cases of SARS-CoV infection among 19 people living with HIV hospitalized in the same ward of SARS patients, of whom 11 were on antiretroviral therapy. Again, the certainty of the evidence is very low due to small sample size, variability in drugs provided, and uncertainty regarding intensity of exposure.

Can antiretrovirals be used to treat COVID-19?
Several studies have suggested that patients infected with the virus causing COVID-19, and the related coronavirus infections (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) had good clinical outcomes, with almost all cases recovering fully. In some cases, patients were given an antiretroviral drug: lopinavir boosted with ritonavir (LPV/r). These studies were mostly carried out in HIV-negative individuals.

It is important to note that these studies using LPV/r had important limitations. The studies were small, timing, duration and dosing for treatment were varied and most patients received co-interventions/co-treatments which may have contributed to the reported outcomes.

While the evidence of benefit of using antiretrovirals to treat coronavirus infections is of very low certainty, serious side effects were rare. Among people living with HIV, the routine use of LPV/r as treatment for HIV is associated with several side effects of moderate severity. However, as the duration of treatment in patients with coronavirus infections was generally limited to a few weeks, these occurrences can be expected to be low or less than that reported from routine use.

Which countries are included in the WHO solidarity trial?
The World Health Organization has announced that Thailand will join a multi-country clinical study for potential treatments for COVID-19, part of a rapid global search for drugs to treat COVID-19. In addition to Thailand, the “Solidarity trial” will include the participation of Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Switzerland.

What is the recovery time for the coronavirus disease?
Using available preliminary data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and is 3-6 weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.

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