Here’s what you need to know about the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has everyone around the world quite concerned. This is absolutely normal since a lot of us have never experienced anything like this before. However, there’s a lot of misleading information describing the virus, which is why I’ve decided to give you the lowdown so you can separate the myths from the facts.

What is a coronavirus?

Think of the Coronavirus as a large family of viruses which can cause illnesses in animals and humans. In humans, most coronaviruses usually cause respiratory (related to lungs and breathing) infections that range from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases such as COVID -19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the most recently discovered coronavirus causing disease. It was unknown until the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is an infectious disease, spreading primarily through coughs and sneezes. Most people with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems are more likely to develop serious illness.

What are the COVID-19 symptoms?

Common symptoms include fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some infected people may complain about aches and pains, nasal congestion (blocked nose), a runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and may take time to show up. Some people don’t show symptoms and may not even feel ill at all.

A small number of infected people become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing, but most people actually recover from the disease without needing intensive treatment.

Who is likely to be infected?

Anyone can get infected from with COVID – 19, but older people, and those with underlying medical problems like chronic diseases, like HIV, TB, heart disease and diabetes, are more likely to develop a serious illness. So, if you start to experience a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, please seek medical attention immediately.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The most common way the COVID – 19 can spread is when an infected person coughs or exhales. The small droplets from their nose can land onto objects and surfaces around you. If you come into contact with the virus (breath it in, touch escalators, door handles, hard surfaces like tables) and touch your eyes, nose and mouth, you can catch the COVID – 19 as well.

How can prevent yourself from getting infected?

There is no need to panic, the best way to prevent COVID-19 is by being informed.

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. If you can access hand sanitiser, make sure that it’s alcohol-based. Doing this will help you to kill any viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. While this may be hard to do, it can help prevent infection by not transferring the virus that you might pick from objects and surfaces around you.
  • Whenever you feel like you want to cough or sneeze, remember to cover your nose and mouth using the inside of your elbow or a tissue and throw it away immediately. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.
  • If you or someone you know starts to feel unwell and experience COVID-19 related symptoms, make sure you seek immediate medical attention by calling this number 0800 029 999 or sending a WhatsApp text to 0600123 456. Call your nearest health clinic or hospital in advance, they’ll be able to direct you quickly to a healthcare facility that can help you. It is important NOT to go to your clinic or healthcare provider before calling in as you may infect others.
  • If you are infected, please follow the instructions from your health care practitioner.

I hope that you understand the coronavirus (COVID -19) better now. Remember that social distancing (staying home, avoiding crowds and refraining from touching one another) during this lockdown is necessary to stop the number of infections – take it seriously, Choma. For more information on the virus and lockdown, visit

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).