FAQ Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (english)

FAQ Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (english)

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Informationen zum Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

Frequently asked questions regarding Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

In the following you will find the most frequently asked questions that have been posed to the health authority.

Additional websites offering more questions and answers concerning Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can be found here:

Robert Koch-InstitutExternal Link

Hessisches Ministerium für Soziales und IntegrationExternal Link

Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung (BZgA)External Link

Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung (BZgA) External Link- Erklärvideos auf YouTube


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Questions and Answers

What exactly is SARS-CoV-2?

The Nova (new) type of Coronavirus was first encountered on December 8th, 2019 in the city of Wuhan (China) where the first infections and resulting illnesses were registered, as in 2003 with the SARS virus this is in fact also beta-Coronavirus. The name COVID-19 comes from Corona, Virus and Disease supplemented with the figure 19 because it was discovered in, 2019. The actual catalyst or flashpoint of the disease, the virus itself, was also assigned its own name, as: SARS-CoV-2.

What are the symptoms caused by SARS-CoV-2?

As with other respiratory viruses an infection can include symptoms such as cough, common cold, throat irritation and fever, patients have also experienced diarrhea.

How likely are severe complications resulting from an infection with the Corona virus?

The spectrum ranges from varying degrees and course of the illness; this can include no symptoms at all (even though a highly infectious positive test-result has been established), all the way to serious cases of pneumonia (lung infection) which can be life-threatening. Deaths as a result of the illness have primarily occurred among older patients and patients with chronic pre-existing conditions.

 

The current mortality rate of those with officially confirmed diagnostic results for the illness is at approximately 2%. It is, however, probable that this amount is in fact lower, as this data pertains to those patients actually hospitalized. Particularly susceptible to this illness are people whose immune-system is diminished, have a chronic pulmonary ailment and/or are 60 yrs. of age and older.

How long is the incubation period?

The infectiousness of the disease is at a maximum of 14 days, usually though 2-10 days. Symptoms occurring after this incubation period are counter indicative for an infection with SARS-CoV-2.

How is SARS-CoV-2 transferred?

The human-to-human transfer of SARS-CoV-2 is primarily achieved through droplet- and airborne-infection as in the case of the flu. Generally speaking the contagiousness and infectiousness begins with the onset of the symptoms. Exceptionally, patients with mild or non-existent symptoms can be infectious. Furthermore, a contact and/or smear infection is also possible. This is why, as with influenza, a good hand-hygiene is very advisable.

Can imported products from China, such as China pottery, metals and other materials be infectious?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the German Government’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment there is no risk of infection from imported goods, postal mail or baggage which do not contain living or deceased animals or fresh animal products. An infection with SARS-CoV-2 from surfaces which do not belong to the direct environment of an infected patient, e.g. imported postal packages or baggage, appears to be unlikely. In general, thorough hand-hygiene (i.e. Handwashing) is a vital component to protecting oneself from infection. This also applies to imported bank-notes from China.

Is there medication against the virus?

Currently the symptoms can only be treated symptomatically. A special vaccine or anti-dote against this virus is not available.

How can the public protect itself from SARS-CoV-2 infection?

For protective measures the public is required to continue maintaining simple hygienic rules. Regular hand-washing using soap and water, particularly before eating meals can reduce the risk of infection with a variety of different viruses and flu-viruses. The sneeze and cough-etiquette should also be maintained as should the use of single-use tissues that are subsequently binned. When using public transport and using grips and holds, hands should also be cleaned soon thereafter.

Medical personnel will protect itself with appropriate protective clothing when assisting patients with this new Coronavirus.

Which disinfectants are suitable when taking disinfection measures in connection with Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2?

As a covered virus SARS-CoV-2 can be relatively easily inactivated. In principle water and soap are sufficient. For chemical disinfection the following agents with proven effectiveness should be used: Sphere of use limited anti-viral agent or better.

In what situations is it sensible for the general public to use mouth-and-nose protection to protect against acute respiratory illnesses?

Wearing mouth-and-nose protection is sensible when an infected person has to access the public space. Outside of the medical sector the wearing of protective masks for non-infected (healthy) people is generally not recommended.

The most important and effective protection is good hand-hygiene, correct cough-etiquette and maintaining a minimum distance of 1-2 meters from coughing persons.

How can individuals who are still in risk-exposed-areas protect themselves from infection with SARS-CoV-2?

A strict hand-hygiene (washing with soap) should be exercised. Large social gatherings should be avoided whenever possible. Contact with persons who have an acute respiratory infection, should also be avoided. In the case of ill family members, the wearing of protective masks at home is highly recommended.

How should I conduct myself when returning from a voyage and carrying a suspected infection?

If you are returning from an region at risk and are showing symptoms of fever, dry cough and shortage of breath, avoid social contact. Present yourself for a medical appointment with your practitioner having made a fixed appointment in advance via telephone to have yourself examined. This also applies to people who have had contact with an infected person (that has tested positive) during the last 14 days. The medical practitioner (Doctor) who determines a suspected infection with COVID-19 in a given patient must report this according to the Coronavirus Registration Ordinance which has been put in place effective February 1st, 2020, to the health authority. A throat-swab will then be performed by the doctor and forwarded to a virology institute for testing. No testing will be performed directly at the institute.

Do returning travelers from non-risk-areas following recovery from an ordinary infection require a doctor’s certificate for their child care facilities of choice or for their employers, before they resume their normal activities?

People that have stayed at home with a respiratory infection and have recovered do not require a medical certificate to resume their normal activities.

Is my employer and/or school or child care facility entitled to require a proof of SARS-CoV-2-testing from individuals that have recently returned to Germany from at-risk-areas and have shown no symptoms?

An examination of people without symptoms returning from at-risk-areas and who have had no verifiable contact to COVID-19 patients is neither recommended nor performed by the Health Authorities.

What precautions are recommended for people arriving from at-risk-regions and are suffering from respiratory problems?

These people should get in touch with a medical practitioner (doctor) without delay. In this case a SARS-CoV-2 testing is legitimate. Until the receipt of the test-result these persons are required to self-isolate in their own household. Should there be more people living in this household close contact should be avoided and the hygienic measures maintained.

Recommended conduct of persons who have been in contact with verifiable COVID-19 patients?

As a first step, it needs to be established if a close contact (Face-to-Face >15 min.) has taken place during the last 14 days. In this case self-isolation is recommended by staying indoors. Household utensils should not be shared with others. In certain cases a timely separation in the usage of certain rooms and facilities within the household is advisable. It is also important to ensure a regular and good airing of the rooms. With the employer it is advisable to determine if working from home office is possible. Employees, who professionally have a lot of contact with the public and contact to people at risk, will be given visit- and/or work injunction lasting to a point of 14 days after the last confirmed contact to the positively tested case. This also applies to school pupils and students. These injunctions will be issued by the respective health authority.

If the contact person develops respiratory problems within the following 14 days after the last contact, a SARS-CoV-2 testing should follow. In this case contact with a doctor or the health authority should take place.

What measures will the health authority take if a person has tested positive with SARS-CoV-2?

The health authority will contact the person that has tested positive to this virus. There will be an interview regarding the people to whom there has been close contact during the last 14 days. These individuals will also be contacted via telephone or electronically. Depending on the medical indication the health authority will determine if a test is necessary and/or a house-quarantine will be imposed.

What strategy has been put in place for the diagnostics and care of COVID-19-patients in Frankfurt am Main?

The medical resources of the municipality will perform the diagnosis and care COVID-19-patients on the basis of the precautionary standards for influenza. In general all local practitioners (medical doctors) and every hospital must care for COVID-19-patients. Where close contact is required and in suspected cases staff will protect themselves from droplet-infection using:

  • Eye protection
  • Mouth and nose protection, minimum FFP2 masks
  • Gloves
  • Protective gown

What is the exact process with the local practitioner (medical doctor)?

  • The suspected infection-case contacts his local medical practitioner via telephone.
  • An appointment is set with special and timely separation from other patients, as is the case with influenza.
  • Medical history and examination.
  • Depending on relevant indication the medical practitioner will perform a SARS-CoV-2 swab-test
  • The swab sample is then sent to a suitable laboratory (Frankfurt: University clinic Frankfurt, Hessen: Virologie Marburg).
  • In- or out-patient-care

Patients showing only light symptoms do not have to necessarily be assigned to in-patient-care. Following the conduct of the test and the reporting of the suspected case to the health authority the cases can then be placed under home-observation. As soon as the test-result is available, (usually the next day, if the lab receives the sample until lunch-time, failing this the day after), the subsequent process, will be determined by the health authority. The in-patient care must be performed in an isolation-room using the above described protective equipment.

When should a person be examined for SARS-CoV-2 untersucht werden?

When a reasonable suspected case based upon the RKI-Definition can be determined:

I. Respiratory Symptoms independent of their gravity

AND

Contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient within the preceding 14 days

 

II. Acute respiratory syndrome (with or without fever, as well as with or without cough) where based upon clinical, radiological and histopathological indicators for an infectious infiltrate indicate that the lower respiratory tracts are affected for example with pneumonia or acute respiratory syndrome

AND

Sojourn, or stay, in a risk region during the last 14 days.

 

III. Persons who have stayed during the last 14 days in affected countries, who also did not stay in contaminated provinces or regions, but are showing influenza symptoms, should be examined for influenza. In the case of negative diagnosis for influenza, they should be tested only with recourse to the responsible health authority for SARS-CoV-2.

How are doctors and hospitals approaching lab-testing?

The municipality of Frankfurt am Main 
In Frankfurt am Main there are (time-log: March 13th, 4 p.m.) 21 confirmed cases. The municipal health authority of the city is currently reviewing all contact-persons.

 

State of Hesse
The daily up-date of confirmed COVID-19 in the state of Hesse can be reviewed here: HMSIExternal Link

 

Germany
In Germany the new Coronavirus has been confirmed in all federal states of the German Bundesrepublik. The current case data for Germany can be reviewed on the homepage of the Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI): RKI-Fallzahlen in DeutschlandExternal Link

 

The current risk-evaluation for COVID-19 of the RKI can be reviewed here: RKI_Risikobewertung zu COVID-19 für DeutschlandExternal Link

 

Global
The global update on the case data can be reviewed here: 
Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns HopkinsExternal Link .

 

Regions at Risk (according to RKI)
An overview of risk regions can be reviewed here: Robert Koch-Institut_RisikogebieteExternal Link

 

Travel warnings
Whether travel is safe to an affected country can be researched on the webpages of the German government’s ministry for foreign affairs or Auswärtiges Amt (AA):Länderseiten des AA im InternetExternal Link

Are medical practitioners, hospitals, rescue services and health authorities sufficiently informed and equipped?

All medical facility employees have been informed by the Robert-Koch-Institut and the respective health authorities, how they are to act in a suspected case. This includes the putting-on of the protective clothing and equipment, also consisting of respiratory protection, visor-protection and gloves, as well as the placement in isolation of suspected cases in separate rooms. In general all hospitals within the State of Hessen are prepared to deal with patients requiring treatment for these infections. If treatment must be performed in an isolation-ward, this will be determined based upon the gravity of the illness.

What measures are in place should a local medical practitioner not have sufficient protective equipment available?

Many local medical practitioners do not have the respective protective equipment. In particular local medical practitioners do not have face-masks. It is for this reason that many local medical practitioners cannot take the necessary swab-samples for COVID-19 testing, as they have to protect themselves and their medical staff. In this case the Medical On-Call Duty (Ärztliche Bereitschaftsdienst) should be contacted (Freephone 116 117) to enquire which local medical practitioners have the necessary equipment and can conduct the relevant tests.

Do, or, will all persons who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 be registered as in-patients?

Seriously ill persons, for example with radiologically verifiable pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome and so on must be treated and cared for in hospital. This includes family members or people living in the premises without sufficient possibilities of isolation at home, they too must be registered for in-patient care so as to avoid a further transfer of the infection.

Persons showing only light symptoms can be treated with out-patient-care. In this case the health authority will impose 14 day isolation at home. 

Can a Coronavirus test for infection be performed even without symptoms?

A test will only be performed, when a reasonable cause (suspicion) for this Coronavirus infection has been identified.

Can or will the health authority conduct testing?

The municipal health authority of Frankfurt am Main will only test symptom-free contact-persons, who have been placed under private quarantine by order of the health authority. In this case a doctor of the health authority will take the necessary swab-sample for testing. A general screening is currently not offered.

Which measures are being implemented by airports in order to identify people taken ill and who are entering from at-risk-regions?

In accordance with international health and safety-standards airline-staff must inform the First-Officer, if a person is aboard that may have an infectious disease. Via Frankfurt Airport the information is then transferred to the on-duty medical doctor of the Competence Center for Highly Pathogenic Infectious Agents in the federal states of Hesse, Rheinland-Pfalz and the Saarland and further necessary measures will be decided upon there.

Furthermore, following an instruction of the Federal Health Minister of Germany all passengers traveling from at-risk-regions directly to Germany, must complete so called exit-cards, which include questions pertaining to their flight, their residence during their stay in the next 30 days after arrival, as well as to their residence, to contact persons and to the overall health condition of the traveler. The airlines will issue the exit-cards. During the flight the exit-cards will be reviewed with respect to their accuracy. Should there be indications of possible Coronavirus infection, this information will be relayed to the First-Officer who will then alert the on-duty medical doctor of the Competence Center for Highly Pathogenic Infectious Agents. The responsible Doctor will then proceed on-board to interview the affected passenger. In the event of probable cause for suspected infection the passenger will then be placed in special isolation ward of the University Clinic of Frankfurt.

Where can residents of the State of Hessen get information regarding the virus?

The Coronavirus Hotline of the State of Hessen is available daily from 08:00 am to 08:00 pm Call 0800-5554666.

This state-wide service is also available to Frankfurt residents as there is no separate Hotline in place for Frankfurt. In the event of probable cause for a suspected infection with SARS-CoV-2 all further measures will be taken by the Frankfurt health authority.

For residents from all other county districts in Hessen the hotline staff are also available, in the event of suspected infections the local health authorities are responsible. You may identify your local health authority using postal-code tool of the Robert-Koch-Institute. Simply enter the postal code of your home address and you can then extract the necessary data.

 

 zuständige GesundheitsamtExternal Link

How can I find my local health authority?

You may identify your local health authority using postal-code tool of the Robert-Koch-Institute. Simply enter the postal code of your home address and you can then extract the necessary data. zuständige GesundheitsamtExternal Link