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Hi, have any questions

We have compiled this collection of FAQs on COVID-19 from expert sources!

Frequently Asked Questions

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. The most recently discovered coronavirus is SARS-CoV2.

WHO adaptation

COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the new corona virus (SARS-CoV2). It was officially named by the World Health Organisation and stands for Corona Virus Disease 2019. The first cases were reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

WHO, Harvard, CDC adaptation

There is no consensus on whether COIVD-19 is airborne and research is still on going. According to the WHO, it may be possible during a medical procedure/supportive treatment that produces aerosols. Transmission of the virus is mainly through droplets from infected individuals who cough, sneeze or speak. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors or surfaces. You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within 1 metre of a person who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.

WHO adaptation

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). The CDC recommends that frequently touched surfaces be cleaned and disinfected routinely. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

CDC, WHO adaptation

Symptoms range from mild to severe and can. Mild: low-grade fever, tiredness, dry cough, aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. Severe: High fever, severe cough, shortness of breath Around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 become seriously ill. Older people (>65yrs), and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes or chronic lung conditions are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

WHO, Harvard, CDC adaptation

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.


  • Wash hands frequently with soap and running water. Or using an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitizer if hands are not soiled.
  • When washing your hands, rub them for at least 20 seconds. This will kill the virus.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • When coughing or sneezing, use tissue or other disposable material. Also cover your nose/mouth with a flexed elbow./li>
  • Throw away used tissues, and WASH hands.
  • AVOID close contact with people who are looking unwell i.e coughing or sneezing./li>

WHO adaptation

Also known as physical distancing, this means deliberately increasing the physical distance between people and decreasing the frequency of contact to reduce the risk of spreading a disease (social distance of more than 2 metres including those who are asymptomatic). For example: working from home, closing schools and other public institutions, opting for communication online instead of physically visiting people, and cancelling or postponing events.

WHO, CDC adaptation

Isolation separates sick people from people who are not sick. Self-isolation means you should stay at home and in a well ventilated room away from house mates if you experience COVID symptoms. You should call the national emergency toll free line (08002000) for further management if your symptoms worsen. During isolation you should practice good standard hygiene, wash hands frequently, avoid sharing personal items e.g. towels and utensils, avoid having visitors and stay at least 2 metres away from people in your house.


Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Self-quarantine means you should stay at home if you are exposed to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 individual you and monitor for symptoms daily for 14 days. If coming from a country with rapidly rising cases of COVID-19, then self-quarantine for 21 days as per national recommendations. During quarantine you should practice good standard hygiene, wash hands frequently, avoid sharing personal items e.g. towels and utensils, avoid having visitors and stay at least 1-2 metres away from people in your house.

CDC, Ministry of Health and Childcare, ZW adaptation

WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks?

  • Use a mask when taking care of a person with a suspected COVID-19 infection
  • Wear a mask if coughing or sneezing
  • Frequent hand-washing with soap and running water/alcohol-based hand rub make the wearing of masks effective
  • Wearing a mask with washing hands is not that effective
  • Masks must be regularly disposed of
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it
  • Before putting on mask, clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Replace mask with a new one as soon as it is damp. DO NOT REUSE single-use masks
  • When removing a mask, remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

WHO, CDC adaptation

Anywhere from 3-13 days after exposure. This is why the recommended quarantine period is 14 days.


Some viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more when the weather is colder. But it is still possible to become sick with these viruses during warmer months. At this time, we do not know whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when the weather warms up.

Harvard adaptation

We are still learning about transmission of the new coronavirus. It's not clear if it can be spread by an infected person through food they have handled or prepared, but if so it would more likely be the exception than the rule. That said, the new coronavirus is a respiratory virus known to spread by upper respiratory secretions, including airborne droplets after coughing or sneezing. The virus that causes COVID-19 has also been detected in the stool of certain people. So we currently cannot rule out the possibility of the infection being transmitted through food by an infected person who has not thoroughly washed their hands. In the case of hot food, the virus would likely be killed by cooking. This may not be the case with uncooked foods like salads or sandwiches.

Harvard adaptation

We haven’t gone long enough to see if there is a seasonal mutation to SARS-CoV2, or how the trillions of new virus particles change as they pass through millions of people.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine adaptation

This is an extreme form of social distancing that can be enforced once a country declares a state of emergency. The conditions of vary from country to country hence It is important to familiarise yourself with the national guidelines.

Botswana Emergency Powers Act

Stay connected: Stay connected and maintain your social networks. Even in situations of isolations, try as much as possible to keep your personal daily routines. Limit media consumption: A near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information updates and practical guidance at specific times during the day from health professionals and WHO website and avoid listening to or following rumours that make you feel uncomfortable. Self-care: During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Find Meaning: Protect yourself and be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper.

World Federation for Mental Health adaptation
Sources: WHO, Havard Medical School Mayo Clinic London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
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