COVID-19 is a contagious virus that causes flu-like and respiratory symptoms and can be transmitted from person to person. Follow this live tracker of the cases globally.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the virus dangerous?
Yes. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that the illness caused by COVID-19 is much more severe than that of the flu, and has a higher mortality rate. As we have seen, the mortality rate depends in part on how quickly and the way in which countries respond to the epidemic.
What are the symptoms?
Common signs include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, chills, body ache, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome.
How can I protect myself and my loved ones from the virus?
WHO standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Should people wear masks?
We follow the World Health Organization’s masks guidance, which for now states that masks are not needed for healthy people if they maintain social distance of 1.5-2 metres and maintain good hygiene through hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette.
- If a person is caring for someone who is sick or suspected as having coronavirus, they should wear an appropriate mask, as they cannot maintain the appropriate distance and appropriately care for them.
World Vision is not recommending or purchasing N95 masks for staff or for donation to health services, because they are only needed for health staff in hospital intensive care units. All other health workers and carers of sick people can function with a regular surgical/medical mask. World Vision encourages any purchase of acceptable masks to be directed towards health professionals and not for public use in order to prevent a shortage of masks among doctors and nurses who really need them.
Several governments are actively encouraging the use of cloth masks. World Vision is not recommending cloth masks for general use as we cannot be assured that they will protect wearers from contracting the virus. World Vision remains concerned that wearing a cloth mask will lead to complacency and reduce handwashing, social distancing and other proven preventative measures.
While there is no globally accepted scientific evidence that the use of cloth masks reduces the spread of this virus, they are however an increasingly recognised symbol of how people are coping with the crisis.
Can the virus be treated?
Just like the common cold there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimised supportive care such as oxygen.
How do you ensure your aid workers aren’t spreading this virus or taking it to refugee camps?
The majority of our staff are locally based, working in their own communities. We take staff well-being seriously, and have been encouraging and equipping staff to take care of themselves so that they can take care of others.
How much are you appealing for?
We are hoping to raise at least $350 million to reach 72 million people around the world. As the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost every country on earth, World Vision is responding within and beyond our projects, using some of our sponsorship funding to protect children and their communities from the potentially devastating impacts of the virus. We will be applying for grants from governments and international bodies as they pledge funding for the global effort. And we will be asking members of the public to contribute to helping vulnerable children and their families survive and recover from this crisis.
How are governments trying to control the spread of the virus?
UPDATED: Many countries have closed schools, imposed travel bans, restricted gatherings of people, and are increasing COVID-19 testing contact tracing. The World Health Organization has been working closely with governments to track the spread of the disease and advise health authorities.
How is this crisis affecting your work?
This continues to be a fast-changing situation, and we are concerned about the long-term effects on children. We are having to adapt and adjust every day, but some of the effects we are already seeing include the temporary halt of a number of our cash and food distribution programmes, and cancelling in-person trainings.
Inevitably, as people deal with this crisis, and lockdowns prevent us from engaging with people face to face, we are seeing a slow-down in donations. But our supporters have stood by the children, families and communities we work with for 70 years, and we believe they will throughout this crisis. Importantly, our ability to help children survive and rebuild their lives depends on supporters and donors around the world and we urgently ask them to give what they can.
Are any sponsored children affected by coronavirus?
The virus is present in places where World Vision has existing development projects and some children are showing symptoms of the virus. The safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children is our highest priority. If a child become seriously ill from coronavirus or any other illness and they are consent to sharing their medical condition, we will contact sponsors with known information as soon as it’s operationally possible.
Why are you calling for your staff to be able to avoid restrictions on movement?
Government policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pose challenges for our ability to respond to people in need. In some places, policies have resulted in mass suspension of life-saving food assistance, cash, and basic service programming that children and their families depend on for basic survival.
We are asking governments to include NGO staff in the essential worker category to enable us to assist in delivering COVID-19 health interventions and other ongoing lifesaving operations. We need them to support all measures necessary to ensure continuity of humanitarian operations including allowance for travel and movement of humanitarian workers to those who are most at risk from the devastating effects of this pandemic. Where appropriate and possible, we are asking governments to designate aid workers as essential personnel, to ensure they have safe access to those most in need.
Help protect vulnerable children
We are responding in every country we work in, in one form or another. Working in collaboration with local authorities, frontline health workers, academic institutions, faith and community leaders as well as local NGOs.
We are providing additional response support in 17 countries with especially vulnerable populations.