What Is The Coronavirus? Prevention of Novel Coronavirus FAQ

General Public

The following are frequently asked questions about what the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is and how to prevent it. All of the answers come from trusted sources. If you have further questions that are not addressed here, please dial 1922. This hotline, set up by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC), provides 24-hour service on disease reporting, communicable disease consultation, prevention policy promotion, and virus prevention education to the public. For those overseas, please dial 0800-024582 and you will be redirected.

What is the novel coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The coronavirus identified in 2019 (COVID-19) is different from other coronaviruses commonly circulated among humans that cause mild illness, like the common cold.

What are the common symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry and continuous cough, fever, and fatigue. Other flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, muscle aches and pains, headache, or runny nose are also common. However, some people are asymptomatic, meaning they do not have any symptoms, and may not even know they have contracted the virus.

Are coronavirus and COVID-19 the same?

COVID-19 is an abbreviation of “Coronavirus Disease 2019” – the two terms are often used interchangeably. COVID-19 is the name of the disease at the center of the current pandemic, which is caused by a previously unknown virus called SARS-CoV-2. The virus is part of a family of coronaviruses that cause different illnesses, including the common cold and seasonal flu.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you think you have COVID-19, stay at home and self-quarantine, and call your local health service immediately for advice. If you are in Taiwan, call 1922. Do not attempt to visit a clinic or the hospital on your own, as you could pass the virus to others.

If you live with other people they should also stay home and self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days, starting from the day you first noticed symptoms. Avoid close contact with others in your household while you’re ill. If you live with someone that is considered medically high-risk or vulnerable, arrange for them to stay somewhere else.

Our co-resident is under home isolation/home quarantine, what should we do?

(1)Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from those who are under quarantine, and avoid close contact with them.

(2)Wear a mask whenever possible.

(3)Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

(4)If you experience any discomfort or symptoms, immediately notify the local health authorities and seek medical assistance.

How do I determine if I should get a viral test?

Priorities for COVID-19 testing are as follows:

(1)Hospitalized patients with symptoms.

(2)Healthcare facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms.

(3)Residents with symptoms in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, including prisons and shelters.

How can I prevent getting and spreading COVID-19?

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.

To protect yourself and others from coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands often: Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Lather your hands, including the backs, between your fingers, and under your nails, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Wear a face mask that covers your mouth and nose when around others: Face masks offer some protection as they block the transmission of liquid droplets. However, they do not block smaller aerosol particles that can pass through the material of the mask. Note that masks leave the eyes exposed and there is evidence that some viruses can infect a person through the eyes.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue on hand, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than into your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Monitor your health
What happens if I feel unwell?

Seek early medical help if you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Remember to share your travel history with healthcare providers.

What should I be aware of when visiting a live market?

‧ If visiting live markets in affected areas, avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces that have been in contact with animals.
‧ If you are in an affected area, avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

What does wearing a face mask do and how does it work?

Wearing a mask can protect ourselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. A face mask covers the nose and mouth. It provides a physical barrier to fluids and large-particle droplets. 

A surgical mask is a type of face mask that is commonly used. Most surgical masks adopt a three-layer design: an outer fluid-repelling layer, a middle layer that serves as a barrier to germs, and an inner moisture-absorbing layer. Masks without the above functions are not recommended as they cannot provide adequate protection against infectious diseases transmitted by respiratory droplets.

You should consider wearing a surgical face mask in the following scenarios: 

  • To protect yourself. 
  • When taking care of a person with a respiratory infection.
  • When visiting hospitals or clinics during peak season for influenza.
  • To prevent the spread of infection to others.
  • If you are experiencing any respiratory symptoms (e.g., fever, runny nose, cough, or sneezing).
Should I wear a face mask when I go out in public?

The CDC recommends wearing a face mask in public when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., at grocery stores and on the MRT), especially in areas with significant potential for community-based transmission of the coronavirus. The purpose of wearing a face mask in public is to slow the spread of the virus and prevent asymptomatic carriers of the virus (i.e., people who may have the virus and do not know it) from transmitting it to others.

Read more about Public Health.

Am I at risk for serious complications of COVID-19 if I smoke cigarettes?

Smoking cigarettes can leave you more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19. For example, smoking is known to cause lung disease and people with underlying lung problems may be at increased risk for serious complications from COVID-19, a disease that primarily attacks the lungs.

Which countries and territories are classified as affected areas that will require me to undergo 14-day home quarantine?

All foreign nationals are forbidden from entering Taiwan starting March 19, with exceptions for those who hold Alien Resident Certificates or documents proving they are on urgent diplomatic, business, or other special missions. All entrants are now required to undertake 14-day home quarantine, regardless of nationality.

Why are nursing homes at greater risk for COVID-19 outbreaks?

Older people and people with multiple comorbidities tend to have more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19. Residents of nursing homes tend to be frailer, have more functional limitations, and have more chronic and complex conditions than other older adults. Based on data about COVID-19, nursing home residents are at the highest risk for serious illness as a result of exposure.

Can you catch COVID-19 a second time?

That remains unclear. A key question is whether antibodies produced by the body following infection by COVID-19 provide some level of immunity, and if so, for how long.

Why do some people have long-lasting symptoms?

“In some persons, they begin to feel well again and signs and symptoms including fever decrease, but some then go on to develop respiratory distress and must be provided oxygen in hospital,” said David Heymann, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “It appears to be a delayed immune response that is more serious in some persons and that reacts to the remaining virus in various organs.”

Could the coronavirus lie dormant in the body and then reactivate?

Experts say it is unlikely. “I know some have discussed ‘reactivation’ of the virus, but this seems unhelpful and unsupported to me,” said immunology professor Daniel Altmann, of Imperial College London. “It’s a term that’s borrowed from other viruses, especially the herpes virus family, that can hide in the body in a latent state to reactivate years later. [There is] no evidence of that at all for coronaviruses.

If there is no water and liquid soap, can I use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead?

If your hands are not visibly soiled, you can use 70% to 80% alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It can effectively prevent cross-transmission of infectious diseases. The hand-rubbing technique of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer is similar to hand washing. 

Use a sufficient amount, around 3 to 5 ml of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands. Rub the palms, then back of hands, in between the fingers, back of fingers, thumbs, fingertips, and then wrists. Rub for at least 20 seconds until your hands are dry. Let the alcohol dry on your hands and do not wipe it off with a paper towel. Check the expiration date of the alcohol-based hand sanitizer before using it.

What is the proper etiquette when coughing?

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of soiled tissues into a lidded trash bin, then wash hands thoroughly. If tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your shirt or upper sleeve.

It only kills the elderly, so are younger people not at risk ?

Most people who are not elderly and do not have underlying health conditions will not become critically ill from COVID-19; however, the illness still has a higher chance of leading to serious respiratory symptoms than the seasonal flu and there are other at-risk groups. For instance, healthcare workers are more vulnerable because they are likely to have higher exposure to the virus. The actions that young, healthy people take, including reporting symptoms and following quarantine instructions, have an important role in protecting the most vulnerable in society and in shaping the overall trajectory of the outbreak.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses; they only work on bacterial infections. Antibiotics do not prevent or treat coronavirus disease (COVID-19), because COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not bacteria. However, some patients with COVID-19 may also develop a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia. In that case, a health care professional may treat the bacterial infection with an antibiotic.

Is it safe to receive a package from novel coronavirus-affected countries?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that the likelihood of COVID-19 contaminating cardboard or other shipping containers is low.

What steps have been taken by Taiwan’s CDC to prevent imported cases?

Inbound travelers with upper respiratory symptoms that do not meet the criteria for compulsory transfer to hospitals are required to complete the “Communicable Disease Survey Form” and receive “Notification of Compulsory Quarantine for Arriving Passengers with Suspicious Symptoms.”

What is the “Epidemic New Life Movement” that Taiwan is promoting?

To help in the prevention of novel coronavirus, Taiwan has implemented the “Epidemic New Life Movement.” This movement aims to make citizens feel safe to shop and dine at any shops and restaurants by meeting the following epidemic control requirements:

(1)Social distancing: 1.5 meters indoors and 1 meter outdoors, with alternating seating arrangements or partitions between seats.

(2)Personal hygiene and protection: Wear face masks, measure body temperature, and provide washing/sanitizing agents for hands at entrances or within the venues.

(3)Real name system: Register customer names and implement customer traffic control.

 

Read more at Citizen’s Willingness to adhere to public health measures.

What kinds of tests are available for COVID-19?

Two tests are available for COVID-19:

  1. A viral test to check for a current infection.
  2. An antibody test to check for a previous infection.

An antibody test may not be able to show a current infection, as it can take 1-3 weeks after infection to produce antibodies.

What can our country learn from Taiwan when it comes to the prevention of novel coronavirus?

Key early measures Taiwan took to control the COVID-19 epidemic include:

  1. Crisis awareness and early response.
  2. Escalating epidemic response to the level of national security and emphasizing disaster mitigation to minimize the possibility of a nationwide lockdown.
  3. Strengthening medical preparedness.
  4. Implementing community-based epidemic prevention and strengthening the tracking of high-risk cases.
  5. Expediting inventory checking and preparedness planning of medical supplies and equipment.
How does COVID-19 spread?

Epidemiological studies of confirmed cases demonstrated infection among family members and healthcare personnel. As a result, it is highly probable that the risk of human-to-human transmission may be increased through respiratory droplets within close proximity, as well as direct or indirect contact with nasal or oral secretions and body fluids of infected individuals.

Can COVID-19 be passed on through sex?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be passed on through semen, vaginal fluid, blood, or anal mucus. However, the virus is easily spread by coming into close contact with others and through saliva when kissing. Some initial evidence has found COVID-19 can be spread through feces, so oral-anal sex with an infected person could increase your risk of getting the virus.

Can COVID-19 be passed from mother-to-child?

With so few cases, it is unclear whether COVID-19 can be passed from a woman to her unborn or newborn baby.
Emerging evidence suggests that it may be possible for mothers to pass on COVID-19 to their babies through pregnancy or birth. However, this is still under investigation.
Pregnant women should continue to follow advice to protect themselves from the virus, and seek medical care straight away if they exhibit symptoms.

Will coronavirus be contagious through animals?

Apart from those transmissible to humans, other specific strains of coronaviruses are also known to infect animals such as bats, pigs, cattle, turkeys, cats, dogs, and ferrets. Case reports of animal-to-human transmission have also been reported.

Can coronavirus infection among animals cause diseases in humans?

Coronaviruses are pathogenic in both humans and other vertebrates. Most human coronaviruses are transmitted through direct contact with body secretions or respiratory droplets from infected individuals. Some strains of coronaviruses cause diarrhea among animals and can be isolated from animal feces; as a result, the viruses are also transmitted through direct contact with the feces of infected animals.

Can I leave my accommodation to buy food or other items?

Leaving your accommodation is strictly prohibited until the end date indicated on the quarantine form.

Are there any mental health support services I can access during quarantine?

In Taiwan, a toll-free hotline number, 1925, can provide counseling services for those in quarantine.

What should I do if symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (fever, cough, breathing difficulty, headache, and fatigue) occur during quarantine?

If you experience any of these symptoms, wear a surgical mask, and call 1922 to obtain instructions on seeking medical attention. Telemedicine services are also available for those in quarantine.

What must I do during quarantine?

Stay in your accommodation. Do not go outside or leave the country. Keep daily records of your body temperature and any symptoms as listed in the health declaration and home quarantine notice.

How can I travel to my place of quarantine?

Arrivals subject to quarantine must not take public transport. If you do not have a private vehicle, regularly disinfected taxis with drivers wearing protective gloves and surgical masks are available at all Taiwan airports. All passengers must wear a surgical mask during transport.

Where does quarantine take place?

Quarantine takes place at your home or your planned place of residence in Taiwan. As of March 17, foreign nationals can rent a room in a public quarantine center. Please call 1922 (toll-free) for more details.

When does the quarantine process start?

Quarantine begins immediately upon landing at the airport. Arrivals will be given a health declaration and home quarantine notification form before passing through immigration, which they must complete and sign. This form can be filled in electronically to save time.

Can I shorten the quarantine period if I spend time in a third country before arriving in Taiwan?

No. The full quarantine time will be enforced for all those who have visited a specified country or territory in the past 14 days, including airport transfers through China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Dubai.

How are 14 days prior to arrival defined?

If a passenger arrives in Taiwan on April 15, the 14 days prior to arrival will be April 1-14.

I do not have a mobile phone number in Taiwan; What should I do if I am required to undergo home quarantine or self-health management?

You may apply for a SIM card at the airport. Our quarantine staff will dial the phone number on-site to ensure it is valid and you are always reachable. For those arriving at Taoyuan International Airport, you will receive a mobile phone designated for home quarantine/self-health management follow-up and tracking.

Do the new border control measures announced by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which went into effect on March 19, annul visa-free entry, landing visas, and eVisas for foreign nationals? Can foreign nationals holding a valid visa still enter Taiwan?

The border control measures announced by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs were implemented in response to the continued spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Foreign nationals who are eligible for visa-free entry or hold a visitor or resident visa and wish to enter Taiwan from March 19 must hold relevant documents to qualify for exempted status. These documents must be presented to the National Immigration Agency (NIA) personnel at the port of entry for approval. Those holding special entry permits issued by Taiwan overseas missions, valid Alien Resident Certificates, or MOFA ID Cards will be allowed entry following an inspection by NIA personnel. For further information, please visit the BOCA website at https://www.boca.gov.tw/cp-220-5081-c06dc-2.html

About TAITRA

TAITRA is Taiwan's foremost nonprofit trade promoting organization. Sponsored by the government and industry organizations, TAITRA assists enterprises to expand their global reach. Headquartered in Taipei, TAITRA operates 5 local offices as well as 63 branches worldwide.

⦿ UPDATE: May 20_Taiwan Confronts Sudden COVID-19 Outbreak with Technological Governance Ingenuity and Extraordinary Civic Cooperation