The 10 most frequently asked questions about coronavirus

If you get it, do you become immune? Is it transmitted sexually? We answer some questions

Until this Monday, More than 40,000 people had been infected by the coronavirus. Although the affected population is mainly to China, cases have also been reported in many other countries.

These are the answers to a selection of questions sent to us by BBC readers about the new virus that causes covid-19.

Once you get the coronavirus, do you become immune? Denise Mitchell, England

When people recover from an infection, their body is left with some memory of how to fight the pathogen if they encounter it one more time. This immunity is not always long-lasting or fully efficient and can be reduced over time. It is not known how long this immunity can last after being infected.

What is the difference between a flu and a coronavirus infection? Brent Starr, Oregon, USA

Coronavirus and influenza share many similar symptoms, which makes it difficult to diagnose the infection without an analytical one. The main symptoms that should be monitored with the coronavirus are a cough fever. The flu often has other symptoms, such as sore throat and sore throat, and people with coronaviruses may have trouble breathing.

Anyone who suspects that they have contracted the coronavirus because they have been in contact with another infected person or traveled to an area where the virus is circulating should consult their doctor.

subway in Shanghai
Coronavirus and influenza share many similar symptoms. (Photo: AFP)

Can coronavirus be transmitted through sexual intercourse? David Cheong, Singapore

It is not clear if this is a transmission route that should concern us. It is currently believed that the main source of the spread of the coronavirus is the cough and sneeze of an infected person.

How a Chinese doctor in his 30s died from this “flu-like” virus? Jeffrey

Perhaps Dr. Li had other health disorders that were not reported and for which he faced a greater risk of infection. Or perhaps he was exposed to a very high initial dose of the virus, which led him to develop more severe symptoms. But we must also remember that seasonal flu primarily kills children and the elderly, but it can also kill people in the fullness of their lives.

Is it useful to wear masks to protect yourself from the virus and how often to replace it? Tom Lim, Bali, Indonesia

There is very little evidence that wearing a mask makes a difference. Experts say that good hygiene, like washing your hands regularly and certainly before bringing them close to your mouth, is much more effective.

What is the coronavirus incubation period? Gillian gibs

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the incubation period, which is the time before symptoms appear, varies from two to 10 days.

These calculations are being reduced as more data becomes available.

Can people who have contracted the coronavirus be back in perfect health? Chris Stepney, England

Yes. Many who have contracted the coronavirus experience only mild symptoms and most people are expected to fully recover.

However, the virus may present a particular risk for the elderly and for those with pre-existing health problems, such as diabetes or cancer or a weakened immune system.

An expert from the National Health Commission of China said it may take a week to recover from the symptoms of mild coronavirus infection.

It is known that there are 6 types of coronaviruses that can affect people. (Photo: Getty Images)

Can coronavirus be transferred with objects bought in Wuhan and shipped by mail? Stefan

There is no evidence that this is a risk. Some diseases, including the coronavirus that causes SARS, can spread on contaminated surfaces by people who cough or sneeze into them.

It has not been proven that this new coronavirus can do that. Even if I could, there would be doubts about whether international shipments would present problems.

Common cold viruses tend to survive less than 24 hours outside the human body, but norovirus (a severe intestinal infection) can last months outside the body.

The most reassuring fact so far is that cases of infection seem to require close contact with another infected person, for example a family member or a health worker, to spread.

Is there any reason why these viruses are emerging more frequently in China? Gautam

Yes. Large populations that live in close proximity to animals.

This coronavirus almost certainly arose from an animal source. One suggestion is that it came from snakes. SARS, another coronavirus that originated in China, emerged from bats and the civet cat.

The first cases of this new infection were traced to a seafood market in Wuhan. Live animals were sold there, including chickens, bats and snakes.

Is it possible to vaccinate to prevent this respiratory disease? Hans Friedrich

At the moment there is no vaccine that can protect people against this type of coronavirus, but scientists are trying to develop one.

It is a new strain that has not been seen in humans before, which means that doctors still have a lot to learn about this virus.

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