All the answers to your questions about the COVID-19

COVID-19 Coronavirus (ex 2019-nCoV) has spread from China. Find on this platform all the official answers to the questions you ask yourself about what is the Coronavirus COVID-19 and the recommendations for your health and your travels.

Faced with infections, there are simple steps to protect your health and that of those around you:
  • Wash your hands very regularly
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue 
  • Greet without shaking hands, avoid kissing
  • Use and dispose of single-use tissues
  • Avoid gatherings, limit travel and contacts.
On March 14, 2020, the Prime Minister decided, following the transition to stage 3 of the plan to combat the epidemic and until further notice, to close all places open to the public that are not essential to life from the country. These include restaurants, cafes, cinemas, nightclubs. Places of worship will remain open, but rallies and ceremonies will have to be postponed. They are also all businesses except essential businesses. In particular, pharmacies, food stores, gas stations, banks, tobacco shops and essential public services will remain open.

The objective is to avoid gathering, limit friendly and family gatherings, use public transport only to go to work and only if physical presence at work is essential.

What is COVID-19 Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which cause diseases ranging from a simple cold (some seasonal viruses are Coronaviruses) to more severe pathologies such as MERS-COV or SARS.
The virus identified in January 2020 in China is a new Coronavirus. The disease caused by this Coronavirus has been named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization - WHO .
Since March 11, 2020, the WHO has described the global situation of COVID-19 as a pandemic; that is to say that the epidemic now affects 137 countries over a large area.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 Coronavirus?

The main symptoms are fever or feeling of fever and signs of breathing difficulties such as coughing or shortness of breath.

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine for the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Several treatments are being evaluated in France, in collaboration with the WHO to be used against the Coronavirus COVID-19. Pending treatment is symptomatic.

Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone ...) could be a factor in worsening the infection.

Many French and European programs and clinical trials are underway to improve the diagnosis, understanding and management of this disease. In addition, teams are working on several treatment avenues in Paris, Marseille and even Lyon; the protocols have started. Teams are also hard at work to invent a vaccine, which may see the light of day in the coming months.

How is COVID-19 Coronavirus transmitted?

The disease is transmitted by postillions (sneezing, coughing). It is therefore considered that close contact with a sick person is necessary to transmit the disease: same place of life, direct contact within a meter during a cough, sneeze or a discussion in the absence of protective measures. One of the preferred vectors for the transmission of the virus is contact with unwashed hands.

What is the incubation period for the disease?

The incubation period, the period between contamination and the appearance of the first symptoms. The COVID-19 coronavirus incubation period is 3 to 5 days in general, however it can extend up to 14 days. During this period, the subject can be contagious: he can carry the virus before the onset of symptoms or the appearance of weak signals.

Where does COVID-19 coronavirus come from? 

The first people to contract the virus went to Wuhan market in China's Hubei Province. An animal-transmitted disease (zoonosis) is therefore preferred, but the origin has not been confirmed.

Has the virus mutated? 

No, but according to the latest scientific data, there are two circulating strains of the virus (L and S).

The S strain is said to be older than the L strain. At this stage, nothing confirms whether the mutation took place in humans or in intermediate hosts (animals).

The L strain would be the most severe and frequent circulating strain (70% of the samples tested in the study), while the S strain would be less aggressive and less frequent (30% of the samples).

Thanks to the means of detection and the measures to combat the coronavirus, the circulation of the L strain, more severe and therefore more easily detectable, tends to decrease.

Can you catch the disease by water?

To date, no water contamination has been reported. This disease is respiratory and probably animal-to-human, but the source has not yet been identified.

Are there any risks linked to domestic animals (livestock and pets)?

There is no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (sources OIE, WHO and Anses).

Are there any risks associated with food?

In view of the information available, the passage of Coronavirus COVID-19 from humans to another animal species currently seems unlikely, and the possible contamination of food of animal origin (DAOA) from an animal infected with COVID-19 is excluded. Raw or undercooked foods do not present any particular risk of transmitting infection, as long as the usual good hygiene rules are observed when handling and preparing foodstuffs.

Will there be a second wave of viruses that will affect the youngest?

The measures announced by the President of the Republic aim to curb the progression of the epidemic. Consequently, the speed of spread of the virus slows down and makes it possible to limit the number of people affected by the virus at the same time. In this strategy, the type of people affected by the virus, and the distribution of simple cases, in particular according to age or the existence of several diseases is not changed. International studies show us that if frail people are most at risk of developing a serious form of Coronavirus infection, the entire population may also be affected. A few cases of serious Coronavirus infection in non-elderly or frail patients have indeed been observed in other countries.

What are the three stages of management of the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic in France?

Stage 1 plans to curb the introduction of the virus on the national territory. It corresponds to the alerting of the health system. The health authorities are mobilized to isolate the patients, quickly detect and identify contact cases, and take care of serious cases in authorized health establishments.
For stage 2 , the objective of the public authorities is to slow the spread of the virus on the territory and to prevent or, at least, to delay as long as possible the passage to stage 3.
Stage 3: The virus circulates widely in the population.
Stage 3 or epidemic stage corresponds to an active circulation of the virus. The strategy is therefore based on mitigating the effects of the epidemic. The organization plans the complete mobilization of the hospital and city health system, as well as the medico-social establishments to protect the fragile populations, to ensure the care of the patients without gravity in town, and of the patients with signs of gravity in establishment of care. Collective activities are strongly impacted. We are currently in stage 3.
Stage 4: End of the epidemic. Back to normal

How is research organized around the virus in France?

The President of the Republic made a point with doctors, scientists, heads of laboratories mobilized for research against the coronavirus and heads of the REACTing consortium, coordinated by INSERM and placed under the aegis of Aviesan, the research alliance in life sciences and health, and mandated by the government to coordinate the research effort. The research world is fully mobilized. In order to support the research effort, the Ministry of Solidarity and Health and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation announced on March 5, 2020 to release an additional 5.5 million euros dedicated to support and coordinating the scientific response to the spread of the virus, bringing the overall effort to 8 million euros.

Many French and European programs and clinical trials are underway to improve the diagnosis, understanding and management of this disease. In addition, teams are working on several treatment avenues in Paris, Marseille and even Lyon; the protocols have started. Teams are also hard at work to invent a vaccine, which may see the light of day in the coming months.

What is the health authorities' strategy for testing?

In the epidemic phase, the principle is to no longer systematically test. There is no right to be screened, and no particular benefit to do so for the general population. After consultation with the High Council of Public Health (HCSP), the tests will no longer be carried out systematically and will be primarily intended for four types of population:
  • frail people (see list) with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, at risk of developing complications. 
  • the first two people with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 in medico-social structures, in particular retirement homes, and in collective structures housing vulnerable people, to take immediate measures to avoid transmission between residents, 
  • hospitalized patients with symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 because it is necessary to be able to quickly understand the patient's condition and avoid transmissions,
  • healthcare professionals with symptoms suggestive of Covid-19.

Why no longer test all patients with symptoms?

With the increase in the number of cases, the systematic search for contacts has become useless. Testing all patients with symptoms would lead to saturation of the screening system, whereas for severe cases and the collective structures of fragile people, screening always makes it possible to take immediate measures (for example to prevent the spread of the virus within a hospital when a patient is hospitalized). The counting of cases is no longer based solely on cases diagnosed biologically, but on epidemiological estimates, as is done for influenza every year (number of consultations, number of serious cases or deaths, etc.). These modifications therefore reflect a desire to adapt the response according to the evolution of the spread of the coronavirus in the various territories.

How are the tests? 

For the populations concerned (see previous question), there are several possibilities for testing:
  • For patients diagnosed in hospital or with signs of severity, these tests will be performed in hospitals.  
  • For other patients meeting the screening criteria, it is possible to be tested in laboratories in town, after contact with the attending physician and medical prescription. The samples will be taken at home. In no case should you go directly to the biological laboratories, but call them beforehand, and only if you have a medical prescription, because there is a great risk of infecting other patients, especially the most fragile. 
Concerning untested patients, they will be diagnosed COVID-19 on clinical signs by a doctor. The methods of medical care between patients tested or not remain the same.

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