What you need to know about COVID-19
COVID-19 is a new kind of coronavirus respiratory infection that first occurred in China in December 2019. The virus is now spreading from person-to-person around the world accelerated by international passenger travel. You can find updated country information here.
The virus reached Lebanon in the third week of February. Cases are being treated in isolation at the Rafik Hariri University Hospital (RHUH) and people arriving from the countries with epidemics have been told to stay at home (self-quarantine) for 14 days to monitor the development of COVID-19 symptoms—fever, cough, shortness of breath—and to prevent infecting other people.
The most probable way to transmit the virus is by close contact (2 meters or less) with an infected person who spreads droplets when they cough or sneeze. People may also be infected by touching something contaminated by COVID-19 virus and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. The best ways for reducing the transmission of the virus are keeping a distance from sick people, and washing your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water (for at least 40 seconds).
Most infected people (>80 percent) experience mild symptoms only. Critical cases tend to arise among older people with pre-existing conditions, such as heart or lung disease, or diabetes.
What to do if you were in a COVID-19 hotspot
If you or a member of your household have returned from a country listed as CDC Level 3 (widespread, sustained spread) in the last 14 days, you should inform the Employee Health Unit at the University Health Service (ext. 3015) and isolate yourself at home (self-quarantine) for 14 days. That means staying at home and avoiding close contact with family members. The same condition applies to any employee/student who has knowingly come into close contact (2 meters or less) with someone who has recently visited any of these countries. More information on how to self-isolate can be accessed here.
If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 infection (fever, cough, breathing difficulties), you should immediately call the Employee Health Unit (x3015).
How to protect yourself and others:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 40 seconds; before and after eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. (See CDC handwashing video.) Use alcohol-based (with at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer (for 20 seconds) if soap and water are unavailable.
- Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces including phones and computers (with disinfecting wipes).
- Catch coughs and sneezes in a disposable napkin and throw it away, then wash your hands immediately—or cough/sneeze in the crook of the elbow, then wash your clothes as soon as possible.
- Stay home if you are ill.
- If you need medical attention, call your doctor instead of going directly to the hospital, clinic, or pharmacy, as you can infect others this way.
- If you are not ill, keep a distance from people who are unwell or people who have traveled to the countries mentioned above.
- Do not use facemasks if you are not sick, since they are not recommended for healthy people to avoid respiratory viruses including COVID-19. Masks can be used if you are caring for an ill person or if you are ill.