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The decisive factor in fighting the virus pandemic is not only the total number of cases, but how quickly the pathogen spreads. If the spread is not restricted, the number of infected people increases very rapidly. The epidemic then overwhelms the capacities of the health system. If there are too many patients, the number of hospital beds, available personnel and medical equipment is no longer sufficient. If the epidemic can be slowed down, there will be a similar number of infected persons overall, but spread over a longer period of time. A collapse of the health system can thus be avoided.
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.
Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19 is still affecting mostly people in China with some outbreaks in other countries. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands. Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. The Robert Koch-Institut (RKI) recommends the general wearing of a mask in certain situations in public spaces as a further element to protect risk groups and reduce the pressure of infection and thus the spread of COVID-19.
At trade fairs, congresses or other events it is generally recommended to pay attention to prevention of infectious diseases. This includes regular cleaning of surfaces and sanitary facilities as well as good ventilation of the event location. Organisers can also inform participants in an organised and structured manner about general infection prevention measures such as good respiratory hygiene. People suffering from acute respiratory diseases should generally prefer to stay at home - mainly to protect themselves, but also to protect others from infection.
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.
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.
According to current knowledge, infection is possible above all if a citizen has previously been in one of the virus' distribution areas or has had direct contact with a coronavirus-infected person. Very important: Anyone who thinks that these criteria apply to him or her and shows corresponding symptoms should first contact the family doctor at home by telephone and have further clarification provided. Telephone contact can also help to slow down the possible spread of the virus. In addition, patients can contact the medical on-call service 116 117 of the Kassenärztliche Vereinung. This number can also be reached outside office hours and provides assistance in deciding on further steps.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2% of people with the disease have died. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.