Coronavirus: The dos and don’ts you need to know

Here is a lowdown on the coronavirus, how to avoid contracting it, and what to do in case of suspected infection

Coronavirus pandemic Mumbai
The lowest movement had gone down to was below 60 per cent of the baseline during the first lockdown | Representative Photo: PTI

The spreading fear of coronavirus and the increasing infection rate in India, have raised more questions on its nature and ways to avoid or mitigate the pandemic. Here is a lowdown on the virus, how to avoid contracting it and seeking help in case of suspected infection.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. Several types of coronaviruses have caused respiratory infections in humans including common cold and even severe forms such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the most recently discovered strain of coronavirus. It was first reported in China’s Wuhan in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Even though most common symptoms include fever, tiredness and dry cough, patients may also have body aches and pains, runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat and diarrhoea.

The symptoms are often mild and develop gradually.

Some people who are infected don’t develop symptoms.

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Around 80% people recover without special treatment.

At least one in every six people with COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops breathing problems.

Older people with medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more susceptible to serious illness.

How does the virus spread?

The virus spreads when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales, allowing droplets from the nose or mouth to spread to others. The droplets settle on surfaces and objects, and people who touch them contract COVID-19 when they touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

It is also recommended to stay 3 feet (1 metre) away from a sick person as healthy people can contract the disease if they breath in droplets from the former when he/she coughs or exhales droplets.

Is coronavirus airborne?

Recent reports have shown that the virus can survive in the air for several hours in the form of aerosols. However, it is unlikely to spread in the same way.

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Who are at risk?

Older people and people with existing medical conditions like blood pressure, heart diseases, lung diseases, cancer or diabetes are more vulnerable to the disease than others.

Are children and pregnant women at risk?

While research has shown that COVID19 is rarely severe in children, they could transmit it to others when they come in contact. LITTLE IS KNOWN ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE VIRUS ON PREGNANT WOMEN. However, they are as likely as others to develop symptoms of the virus.

How can I protect myself?

Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub like hand sanitizers.

Maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself or a person who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, as you may have touched contaminated surfaces.

Follow and encourage people around you to follow respiratory hygiene i.e. use a tissue while coughing or sneezing. Dispose used tissues.

Stay at home if you don’t feel well. Seek medical attention if you have fever, cough and breathing difficulties.

Keep yourself updated on the latest COVID hotspots.

If possible, avoid travelling to places, to minimize the risk of contracting the disease.

What is social distancing?

This is a term used by public health officials to prevent the spread of a contagious disease. The social distancing practices include avoiding and restricting large gatherings, adopting flexible work practices like allowing employees to work from home or cancelling large conferences and meetings.

Can the disease spread to pets? How do I take care of my dog?

According to the World Health Organisation, dogs and cats can get infected by the virus, but there is no evidence that they can spread to humans. It is best for the infected human being to not come in close contact of their pets.

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Should I avoid eating out?

Considering that one may or may not know what kind of food standards and practices are adopted in eateries and restruants, the wise thing to do would be to stick to home cooked food.

Does non-vegetarian food contribute to growth of the virus?

Typical Indian non-vegetarian food like chicken, fish, mutton etc will not lead to infection by coronavirus. However, if you are going to consume them from places where food safety standards and hygiene are not followed, they can lead to gastrointestinal infections that weaken the immune system. A weakened immune system can make you susceptible to any kind of virus. So, the best option is home-cooked non-vegetarian food.

Can the virus transmit through door delivered food by app based aggregators?

It is difficult to know if the delivery boy has been in contact with an infected person and he could be a potential carrier. Home cooked food is more advisable.

Will masks protect me from picking up the virus?

Masks are more effective for those having the virus or when you care for someone with the virus, as per the World Health Organisation.

Do sanitisers really help? How much is it effective as compared to washing hands with soap?

While sanitisers can help you when you are on the move, a hand washing regimen is more recommended, as it is more effective in keeping germs at bay.

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What to do if I want to get checked for COVID-19?

You need not get tested if you don’t have the symptoms of cough, fever or difficulty in breathing .

If you have symptoms, have travelled to COVID-19 countries like Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain, Germany and UAE or have come in contact with a positive person, call the state helpline number or Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s 24×7 helpline number (011-23978046) or email at

The helpline service will take down your contact details and contact you with the testing protocols. You will be tested at a government-approved lab if you qualify as a case for testing.

Can I get myself tested in a private hospital or lab?

The government has planned to allow NABL-accredited private labs to carry out tests. You can find government approved labs at

Can antibiotics be used to treat the disease?

No. antibiotics will not work on viral infections. They can only treat bacterial infection.

Don’ts to avoid infection


Wearing multiple masks

Taking antibiotics

What protective measures should people who are in or have recently visited areas where COVID-19 is spreading, take?

Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms like headache and runny nose, until you recover.

Avoid contact with people.

Visit a medical facility or hospital as they can help you better.