Live Statistics

Questions & Answers on Coronavirus

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe illness. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Reduce your risk of getting sick with COVID-19

  • Continue your medications and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your doctor.
  • Have at least a 2-week supply of prescription and non-prescription medications. Talk to your healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an extra supply (i.e., more than two weeks) of prescription medications, if possible, to reduce trips to the pharmacy.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether your vaccinations are up-to-date. People older than 65 years, and those with many underlying conditions, such as those who are immunocompromised or with significant liver disease, are recommended to receive vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal disease.
  • Do not delay getting emergency care for your underlying condition because of COVID-19. Emergency departments have contingency infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care for your underlying condition.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your underlying medical conditions or if you get sick and think that you may have COVID-19. If you need emergency help, call 911.

Learn what else you can do as someone who may be at higher risk for severe illness, including staying home and away from other people as much as possible.


Actions you can take based on your conditions and other risk factors


Conditions and Other Risk Factors

Asthma (moderate-to-severe)


Moderate-to-severe asthma may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take
  • Follow your Asthma Action Plan.
  • Keep your asthma under control.
  • Continue your current medications, including any inhalers with steroids in them (“steroids” is another word for corticosteroids).
  • Know how to use your inhaler.
  • Avoid your asthma triggers.
  • If possible, have another member of your household who doesn’t have asthma clean and disinfect your house for you. When they use cleaning and disinfecting products, have them:
    • Make sure that people with asthma are not in the room.
    • Minimize use of disinfectants that can cause an asthma attack.
    • Open windows or doors and use a fan that blows air outdoors.
    • Always follow the instructions on the product label.
    • Spray or pour spray products onto a cleaning cloth or paper towel instead of spraying the product directly onto the cleaning surface (if the product label allows).

Why you might be at higher risk?

COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and serious illness.

Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis

Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis may increase a person’s risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

Dialysis patients are more prone to infection and severe illness because of weakened immune systems; treatments and procedures to manage kidney failure; and coexisting conditions such as diabetes.

Chronic lung disease


Chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis, may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take
  • Keep taking your current medications, including those with steroids in them (“steroids” is another word for corticosteroids).
  • Avoid triggers that make your symptoms worse.

Why you might be at higher risk

Based on data from other viral respiratory infections, COVID-19 might cause flare-ups of chronic lung diseases leading to severe illness.

Why you might be at higher risk?

People with diabetes whose blood sugar levels are often higher than their target are more likely to have diabetes-related health problems. Those health problems can make it harder to overcome COVID-19.

                                  Hemoglobin Disorders


Hemoglobin disorders such as sickle cell disease (SCD) and thalassemia may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take

Why you might be at higher risk?

Living with a hemoglobin disorder can lead to serious multi-organ complications, and underlying medical conditions (such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, iron overload, kidney disease, viral infections, or weakened immune system) may increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.



Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised), including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, HIV with a low CD4 cell count or not on HIV treatment, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications. People who are Immunocompromised

Actions to take
  • If you are immunocompromised, continue any recommended medications or treatments and follow the advice of your healthcare provider.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your condition or feel sick.

Why you might be at higher risk?

People with a weakened immune system have reduced ability to fight infectious diseases, including viruses like COVID-19. Knowledge is limited about the virus that causes COVID-19, but based on similar viruses, there is concern that immunocompromised patients may remain infectious for longer than other COVID-19 patients.

Liver disease


Chronic liver disease,  including cirrhosis, may increase risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take
  • Take your medications exactly as prescribed.

Why you might be at higher risk?

Severe illness caused by COVID-19 and the medications used to treat some severe consequences of COVID-19 can cause strain on the liver, particularly for those with underlying liver problems. People living with serious liver disease can have a weakened immune system, leaving the body less able to fight COVID-19.

People aged 65 years and older


Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19.

Actions to take
  • Take your medications for any underlying health conditions exactly as prescribed.
  • Follow the advice of your healthcare provider.
  • Develop a care plan that summarizes your health conditions and current treatments.
  • Prepare yourself to stay home for long periods using this checklist.

Why you might be at higher risk?

Although COVID-19 can affect any group, the older you are, the higher your risk of serious disease. Eight out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years or older; risk of death is highest among those 85 years or older. The immune systems of older adults weaken with age, making it harder to fight off infections. Also, older adults commonly have chronic diseases that can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility


Many cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have occurred among older adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities

Actions to take
  • Carefully follow your facility’s instructions for infection prevention.
  • Notify staff right away if you feel sick.
  • Ask your caretakers about the actions that are being taken at your nursing home or long-term care facility to protect you and your loved ones, including if and how they are limiting visitors.

Why you might be at higher risk?

The communal nature of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and the population served (generally older adults often with underlying medical conditions), put those living in nursing homes at higher risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.

Serious heart conditions


Serious heart conditions, including heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and pulmonary hypertension, may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Actions to take
  • Take your medication exactly as prescribed. Continue angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) or angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARB) as prescribed by your healthcare provider for indications such as heart failure or high blood pressure. This is recommended by current clinical guidelines.
  • Make sure that you have at least a two-week supply of your heart disease medications (such as those to treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure).
  • People with hypertension should continue to manage and control their blood pressure and take their medication as directed.

Why you might be at higher risk?

COVID-19, like other viral illnesses such as the flu, can damage the respiratory system and make it harder for your heart to work. For people with heart failure and other serious heart conditions this can lead to a worsening of COVID-19 symptoms.

Severe obesity


Severe obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above, puts people at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.

 Actions to take
  • Take your medications for any underlying health conditions exactly as prescribed.

Why you might be at higher risk

Severe obesity increases the risk of a serious breathing problem called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is a major complication of COVID-19 and can cause difficulties with a doctor’s ability to provide respiratory support for seriously ill patients. People living with severe obesity can have multiple serious chronic diseases and underlying health conditions that can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.



Named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, this novel coronavirus attacks the lower respiratory tract of patients infected with cryptogenic organizing pneumonia. The infectious disease it causes was named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. Coronaviruses comprise a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases like pneumonia, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Most people are vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2, and this novel coronavirus can affect people with low or normal immunity. People with low immunity, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and patients with chronic diseases, are prone to severe acute symptoms after contracting COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 is mainly transmitted via droplets, touching (including self-infection caused by contaminated hands), and short-distance transmission of respiratory aerosols of different sizes. Currently, SARS-CoV-2 is mainly spread via droplets. At first, this virus was transferred from bats to humans; it falls into a specific category of bat viruses. Different coronaviruses persist on surfaces for various lengths of time.

As 2019 ended, news arrived of an epidemic of pneumonia, with a few cases in a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China. Initially, a few cases were detected around December 8, and a cluster was revealed on approximately December 31, 2019, when the WHO office in China was given the information. The market was shut down on January 1, 2020, and the Chinese authority announced the viral threat. All active and suspected cases were tested. At that time, 300 cases were positive and 4 people had died. Initially, few reports verified human-to-human transmission, and reports of super-spreading patients included 15 healthcare workers and viral spread to different Chinese cities. Various other countries also confirmed human-to-human transmission. After China, SARS-CoV-2 spread to Europe, across Asia, and throughout the rest of the world. On January 31, 2020, first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Kerala, India, where a student tested positive as she returned from Wuhan, China. Presently, SARS-CoV-2 is still spreading throughout the world and has affected nearly 132,758 persons globally in 167 countries. Throughout the world, the death rate is extremely high (Fig. 1, as of March 20, 2020).

 COVID-19 has been declared a national disaster by the Indian government. The scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are continually obtaining global information related to the pandemic. They suggest the use of retroviral drugs. The ICMR is providing free and reliable testing and diagnosis to all individuals with symptoms of COVID-19. The government is trying to expand laboratory testing using Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and non-ICMR laboratories in many facilities and organizations, such as the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Defence Research, and the Development Organization (DRDO), and government medical colleges. Thus far, 15 laboratories in India are testing for SARS-CoV-2, and 19 will soon be added.8 The agencies in India conducting COVID-19 testing include the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Hyderabad, and the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi. All of these agencies work under the NIV. A fund named the COVID Fund for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Countries has been started by SAARC countries to fight COVID-19. In addition, the Indian government has appealed to its citizens to follow social distancing procedures, which is the most effective way to stop the community transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

The current COVID-19 situation has affected the whole world and has had a dramatic impact on India. In India, the death rate is comparatively good, but the recovery rate of infected persons is not, which is leading to a difficult situation in India. Infections are increasing day by day in India, even though community transmission began only recently. The Indian government has taken a few necessary steps to control the situation, such as making masks and sanitizer available and providing free testing and diagnosis. Public awareness and programs of “do’s and don’ts” for COVID-19 are run at public places. Environmental conditions may also support controlling SARS-CoV-2; across Asia spring temperatures are increasing, which may decrease viral spread somewhat. Early prediction methods and a specific vaccine are not yet available, although government has been able to control the pandemic thus far. The World Health Organization (WHO) helps developing countries by providing funding, medical kits for testing, and proper guidance for treatment and safety. In India, the death rate and the recovery rate indicate that the pandemic is being controlled, largely because of the preparation done by government before COVID-19 reached more advanced stages. The numbers of laboratories, test kits, and medical facilities have been enhanced appropriately. The Indian government is collaborating with SAARC countries to fight this pandemic. Because the Indian government has taken the appropriate actions outlined here, the COVID-19 pandemic, although tragic, will have the best possible outcome in India.


Pooja Sharma MTech1 and Karan Veer PhD1 1 Department of Instrumentation & Control Engineering, Dr B. R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, Punjab, India

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 such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

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.

WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.    

Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.  See previous answer on “How does COVID-19 spread?”

Can CoVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.  WHO is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.    

Can I catch COVID-19 from the feces of someone with the disease?

The risk of catching COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in feces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings. Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating. 

Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. (See Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus).

Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.

WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and mis-use of masks  (see Advice on the use of masks).

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. See basic protective measures against the new coronavirus for more information.

The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in animals. Occasionally, people get infected with these viruses which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed.
To protect yourself, such as when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.

While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.
WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update as new findings are available.

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. 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).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:

  • Smoking
  • Wearing multiple masks
  • Taking antibiotics (See question 10 "Are there any medicines of therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19?")

In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.