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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Coronavirus?







Can I order take away food?
The coronavirus is not transmitted through food. There is a risk that there could be contamination of the food packaging with the virus. It is advisable that you remove the food from its disposable outer packaging and heat it thoroughly prior to consuming it. Finally, always wash your hands properly before starting to eat.

Is it safe to receive a letter or package from abroad?
It is known that coronavirus can survive on different surfaces for a few hours to a few days. It is advisable to put aside the package or parcel for a few days unless you need the contents urgently. If you do, make sure you wash your hands very well after handling it.

I believe I have been in contact with someone who has the virus, does this mean I have to be tested?​
Public Health Authorities follow contact tracing procedures to identify and contact all possible close contacts.  A risk assessment is done for each contact according to type and duration of contact; each case is different. Public Health Authorities will advise you if you need to be tested. You are advised to self monitor for symptoms. If symptoms develop please call the Public Health Helpline 111.




Should I wear facemasks?
As from Wednesday 19th August 2020 it is mandatoryto wear a face mask or visor in all public closed spaces, in retail outlets, on public transport and on the ferry. Customers and staff in retail outlets and on public transport are required to wear a mask or a visor. Visors can be worn alone or together with a mask. Persons visiting banks are advised to wear a visor, since masks are not be permitted for security reasons. It is the responsibility of employers to provide appropriate masks or visors for their workers. The use of face masks helps reduce the spread of infection in the community by limiting the spread of infection from infected individuals who may not know they are infected, who have not yet developed symptoms or who remain asymptomatic. The wearing of masks will therefore enhance the effects of physical distancing. It is important to note that face covers are not meant to be a replacement for physical distancing; observing cough and sneeze etiquette; maintaining meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching one’s face.

Am I protected against Covid-19 if I had the influenza vaccine this year?
Influenza and Covid-19 are two very different viruses and the seasonal influenza vaccine would not protect against disease caused by Covid-19 however, the influenza vaccine is the best available protection against seasonal influenza.

How should I clean surfaces to prevent spread of germs?
We recommend performing routine environmental cleaning:
- Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces
- Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. Some examples of frequently used disinfectants are 70% ethanol and products containing sodium hypochlorite (contained in the household bleach).

No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.

I have an appointment for the swab test but I have heard that it is uncomfortable. Can I cancel my appointment?
While the test is not compulsory it is NOT recommended for you to cancel your appointment. The swab test can be uncomfortable, but it only lasts a few seconds and it is the only way to know for sure whether you have the infection or not. This is important not only for yourself, but also for any vulnerable people you may encounter who might suffer severe consequences if they become infected with coronavirus. It is still recommended that anybody with symptoms, even mild ones, should isolate himself/herself until he/she has been free from symptoms for 24 hours.

If I had tested positive for Coronavirus and have now recovered, can I get infected again?
There is still insufficient evidence about whether people who have recovered from infection with Covid-19 develop long-lasting immunity or not. It is therefore advisable that even though you have recovered from the coronavirus infection you should still observe all recommendations about hand hygiene and social distancing. You should also contact a doctor (by phone) or 111 should you once again develop symptoms of this virus as you may need to have the swab test done again.

My neighbour had Covid-19 infection and has now come out of quarantine. Should I be worried / keep away from him? Where can I check that he has really recovered?
If your neighbour has been given a clean bill of health by the Public Health Authorities and told that he no longer needs to stay in quarantine, then you can rest assured that he poses no public health risk to you or the general public. You therefore do not need to take any precautions other than those being recommended in general, to all, with regards to hand hygiene and social distancing.

The health department will not reveal any information about private individuals to others without their consent. You therefore cannot check whether somebody else has had the infection or has recovered from it. However, there are enforcement officers checking regularly on people who are in mandatory quarantine because they resulted positive for Covid-19, and they will be aware if somebody is not observing this quarantine and issue fines accordingly.

Can the influenza vaccine prevent Coronavirus?
The influenza vaccine protects against influenza virus. Coronavirus is another family of viruses which is different from influenza so the vaccine will not protect against coronavirus. There is no vaccine for coronavirus yet. Scientists are still trying to develop a vaccine which can work against the virus.

Can natural remedies treat Coronavirus?
Many have seen various social media posts which claim that natural remedies like gargling with salt water, eating garlic cloves or having some Chinese medicines as possible treatment options for coronavirus. However, this is not correct. There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus. Some brands or mouthwash can eliminate certain microbes for a few minutes in the saliva in your mouth. However, this does not mean they protect you from coronavirus infection. Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

Currently, there is no treatment available for coronavirus. Treatment is only supportive for this virus, and viral infections have their own course and subside on their own. From the information available 98% of people recover. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials.

Are healthy individuals at risk?
Many people believe that only those individuals with a weak immune system or with other respiratory conditions  are at risk of getting infected with coronavirus. In fact, everyone is at equal risk, even healthy individuals. Hence, it is important every individual protects him or herself by taking the necessary precautionary measures. People who are elderly or have chronic diseases are more at risk of getting complications if they get infected with novel coronavirus.

Did transmission occur from bat soup?
A video of a young woman eating bat soup is going viral on social media claiming that consumption of bat soup is the cause of this outbreak. This is not correct. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. We know that through a natural phenomenon, viruses jump from animals to humans. This is called a “spillover” when the virus is passed from animal to human. This occurs through close human-to-animal contact, especially in markets where live and dead animals are sold. The virus then mutates to be able to affect humans and become transmissible from human-to-human. The exact source of novel coronavirus is still not confirmed.

Can pets at home spread the novel coronavirus?
At present we are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading Covid-19 is considered to be low. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets.

Can antibiotics treat novel coronavirus?
Antibiotics do not work against viruses. Antibiotics are only effective for bacteria. The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if a patient needs hospitalisation for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.​

Frequently used terms
aerosols: infectious viral particles that can float or drift around in the air. Aerosols are emitted by a person infected with coronavirus - even one with no symptoms - when they talk, breathe, cough, or sneeze. Another person can breathe in these aerosols and become infected with the virus. Aerosolized coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours.

community spread (community transmission): is said to have occurred when people have been infected without any knowledge of contact with someone who has the same infection.

contact tracing: a process that begins with identifying everyone a person diagnosed with a given illness (in this case Covid-19) has been in contact with since they became contagious. The contacts are notified that they are at risk, and may include those who share the person's home, as well as people who were in the same place around the same time as the person with Covid-19, e.g. supermarkets and workplace. Contacts may be asked to quarantine and self monitor for any symptoms. They will be asked to call the Public Helpline 111 to be tested for coronavirus if they begin to experience symptoms.

containment: refers to limiting the spread of an illness. Because no vaccines exist to prevent Covid-19 and no specific therapies exist to treat it, containment is done using public health interventions. These may include identifying and isolating those who are ill, and tracking down anyone they have had contact with and possibly placing them under quarantine.

epidemic: a disease outbreak in a community or region.

flattening the curve: refers to the epidemic curve, a statistical chart used to visualize the number of new cases over a given period of time during a disease outbreak. Flattening the curve is shorthand for implementing mitigation strategies to slow things down, so that fewer new cases develop over a longer period of time. This increases the chances that hospitals and other healthcare facilities will be equipped to handle any influx of patients.

incubation period: the period of time between exposure to an infection and when symptoms begin.

isolation: the separation of people with a contagious disease (in this case Covid-19) from people who are not sick.

mitigation: refers to steps taken to limit the impact of an illness. Because no vaccines exist to prevent Covid-19 and no specific therapies exist to treat it, mitigation strategies may include frequent and thorough handwashing, not touching your face, staying away from people who are sick, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, and regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects at home, in schools, at work, and in other settings.

pandemic: a disease outbreak affecting large populations or a whole region, country, or continent.

physical distancing: also called social distancing, refers to actions taken to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. For an individual, it refers to maintaining enough physical distance (a minimum of six 2 metres) between yourself and another person to reduce the risk of breathing in droplets or aerosols that are produced when an infected person breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes.

quarantine: separates and restricts the movement of people who have a contagious disease, have symptoms that are consistent with the disease, or were exposed to a contagious disease, to see if they become sick.

social distancing: also called physical distancing, refers to actions taken to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. For an individual, it refers to maintaining enough physical distance (a minimum of 2 metres) between yourself and another person to reduce the risk of breathing in droplets or aerosols that are produced when an infected person breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes. It is possible to safely maintain social connections while social distancing, through phone calls, video chats, and social media platforms.

virus: a virus is the smallest of infectious microbes, smaller than bacteria or fungi. A virus consists of a small piece of genetic material (DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein shell. Viruses cannot survive without a living cell in which to reproduce. Once a virus enters a living cell (the host cell) and takes over a cell's inner workings, the cell cannot carry out its normal life-sustaining tasks. The host cell becomes a virus manufacturing plant, making viral parts that then reassemble into whole viruses and go on to infect other cells. Eventually, the host cell dies.