Coronavirus - frequently asked questions

What is the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

The 2019-nCoV identified in China is a new strain of coronaviruses not previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses belong to a large family of viruses that can cause diseases in humans or animals. Very rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect humans and spread from human-to-human. Human coronaviruses are usually associated with mild diseases or mild colds. Until now there have been two specific coronaviruses that have passed from animals to humans and caused serious diseases in humans: MERS and SARS. 

How can I recognize whether I am infected with the 2019-nCoV?

Patients with a confirmed 2019-nCoV infection reportedly have mild to severe respiratory disease with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lung problems (less frequent complication)
How is the coronavirus transmitted?

The disease is transmissible from human to human. At this moment it is assumed that one sick person can infect two other people on average. What is known, however, is that the sicker a person is, the more they spread the virus. (source: RIVM)

Coronaviruses are transmitted through the air with droplets of saliva that are released by coughing or sneezing.

These droplets, which move through the air, can infect a person directly through breathing. These droplets are transmitted through the air and can land on all kind of objects. A person can become infected if he or she touches an object containing viruses and then touches the eyes, nose or mouth. 

The virus can also be transmitted through hands. When you shield your mouth with your hands during coughing or sneezing, the viruses are transferred onto your hands. They can then be left on objects by touching them. 

What can people do to prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

The most important measures people can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are very simple. These measures apply to all viruses that can prevent flu and colds so it is always important to follow them.

Those measures are:

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Cough and sneeze in a paper handkerchief or the inside of your elbow
  • Use paper handkerchiefs instead of a reusable handkerchief

Read more about hand hygiene on the website of the World Health Organization

What is the incubation period of 2019-nCoV?

The incubation period is the period between ingestion of 2019-nCoV and the first symptoms of the disease. It is currently thought that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may occur within two to fourteen days after exposure. This is based on what was previously seen as the incubation period of MERS-viruses.

When are you contagious to others?

You are already contagious to others during the incubation period, as well as in the period during which you have symptoms of the disease.