Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the Novel Coronavirus

Where do coronaviruses come from?

Coronaviruses are viruses that circulate among animals but some of them are also known to affect humans. After a human is infected, the virus can be transmitted through human-to-human contact. A great variety of animals is known to be the source of coronaviruses. For example, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) originated from camels and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) originated from civet cats. 

Is this virus comparable to SARS or to the seasonal flu (influenza)?

The Novel Coronavirus detected in China is genetically closely related to SARS virus.
SARS emerged at the end of 2002 in China and it resulted in more than 8000 SARS-cases reported by 33 countries in a period of 8 months. At that time, one in ten people who contracted SARS died. Although transmission and symptoms of influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are similar, yet the two viruses causing these infections are substantially different. For this moment, it is too early to draw conclusions on how the Novel Coronavirus spreads. However, preliminary information indicates that its mechanism of spread is more similar to SARS or pandemic influenza than spread of seasonal influenza. This may be explained by the fact that there were no prior cases of this particular infection. According to the data of European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, it is estimated that each year up to 40 000 people die due to causes of influenza (flu) in Europe.

How does a person get infected with COVID-19?

Certain coronaviruses are transmitted human-to-human, usually in a close contact with a coronavirus patient, for example at home, at work or in medical treatment institution. COVID-19 can also be transmitted human-to-human contact. The virus is transmitted mainly via respiratory droplets that people sneeze, cough or exhale. The incubation period for COVID-19 (i.e. the time between exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms) is currently estimated at between 2 and 14 days. The virus can be transmitted when the infected people show flu-like symptoms, however, it is suspected that some people may spread the virus sooner before they start experiencing the symptoms.  

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

They are similar to influenza (flu) symptomsfever, cough, shortness of breath, other respiratory disorders, myalgia (muscle pain) and fatigue. In more severe cases it may cause pneumonia, sepsis, septic shock, kidney failure or even result in death

Who is at a higher risk of becoming infected with the virus?

  • healthcare staff providing medical aid and treatment to the people infected with COVID-19;
  • family members and other persons, who closely communicate with the infected people;
  • elderly people and those who have chronic diseases. 

What are the rules for proper hand washing? Hand washing is essential in order to prevent from infection:

  • You should wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • If soap and water are not available, you can also use alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.

The virus enters your body via your eyes, nose and mouth, so avoid touching them with unwashed hands

Are face masks effective in order to protect from coronavirus?

Wearing face masks may prevent from spreading the virus into the environment. However, bear in mind that face masks do not stop the virus and do not prevent from infection in case of a close contact. Moreover, it is essential to follow hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette as well.

Note that face masks (surgical masks) must be put on if you experience symptoms of respiratory tract infection. In this case, the mask blocks spread of droplets which appear while coughing and sneezing.

While wearing face masks, please consider the following advice:

  • Put your mask on thoroughly by fully covering your mouth and nose;
  • Do not touch your face when your mask is on;
  • When taking the mask off, touch only the straps (ties);
  • Wash your hands after taking off your mask;
  • When your mask becomes wet, change it with a new one;
  • Remember that surgical (disposable) masks are not intended to be used more than once;
  • Throw used disposable masks after each use.

How to protect yourself from coronavirus infections?

In order to reduce the spread of the infection, it is recommended to follow standard measures:

  • frequently wash hands with warm water and soap;
  • avoid touching face and eyes;
  • pay attention to cough and sneeze etiquette (coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow);
  • follow rules for safe food preparation (particularly when using uncooked meat and eggs);
  • avoid close contact with people who experience respiratory disease symptoms (for example, coughing and sneezing).

Can influenza vaccine protect from coronavirus? Influenza vaccine does not protect from coronavirus.  

How to act after returning from abroad?

  • If you have arrived from abroad, you have to fill in the form found on  (other applicable information can be found on
  • If  have arrived from a country affected by COVID-19, you must self-isolate and monitor your health within 14 days of your return.
  • Avoid close contacting (socialising) during that period.
  • Note that breaking self-isolation will result in penalties (fines).
  • For that period, employers are asked to let their employees, who have been abroad recently, to perform remote work at home. Otherwise, employees can address to his doctor which may issue medical certificate of absence. Please note that beforehand you must fill in the aforementioned form.
  • If you experience flu-like symptoms, immediately call 1808 and report about the situation. 

What steps should be taken upon arrival at mobile points?

  • Upon arrival, do not get out of a vehicle and do not open windows until asked.
  • Do not forget to bring your passport/ID and A4 format sheet on which your telephone number shall be written. Coordinator will indicate where the sheet should be placed (your telephone number is needed in order to stay in contact).
  • After the test, go home, self-isolate and wait for the test results.
  • If you get positive results of COVID-19 test, do not go to hospital on your own. You have to wait for further instructions from doctors.

Can you get infected by contacting with animals in Europe?

Current research links COVID-19 to certain types of bats, but it does not exclude the possibility of involvement of other animals. There is no evidence that pets (e.g. dogs or cats) pose a risk of infection to humans. Yet, as a general precaution, it is always advised to observe and follow basic hygiene principles when in contact with animals. 

Is it safe to receive parcels from the affected territories? 

Receiving parcels from the affected territories is not forbidden. Currently, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through objects. Yet, it is still recommended to throw away the packaging and wash your hands thoroughly after you unpack your items.

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