Coronavirus: The Definitive Guide (updated March 2020)

Are you looking for an accurate and informed guide to the coronavirus?

With all the coronavirus news doing the rounds, it’s quite easy to be duped into sharing the wrong information.

So, we’ve put together an essential guide to everything you need to know about the COVID-19 outbreak caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In this guide, we’ll explain:

  • What exactly is the coronavirus
  • Protective measures against coronavirus
  • Guide to affected countries·        
  • How to stay informed

What is Coronavirus?

Firstly, let’s begin with the correct terminology. The actual illness, or disease, is called COVID-19, which is caused by coronavirus. The virus is currently affecting a small, but growing number of people outside of China where it has had the most impact.

How does it compare to SARS, MERS and H1N1?

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and Coronavirus disease COVID-19 are all caused by a family of coronaviruses. In fact, coronaviruses are quite common and cause illnesses such as the common cold.

On the other hand, H1N1, or Swine Flu, is an Influenza type A virus transmitted by pigs and has a very low human-to-human transmission rate.

Avian influenza, or Bird Flu, (H5N1) is transmitted through exposure to infected birds usually through live meat markets, and consumption of the infected meat.

The most crucial difference between the flu and the coronavirus is that the latter has been far deadlier. Whereas about 0.1% of people who get the flu die, the coronavirus’ death rate is now at about 3.4%, based on the current numbers of cases and deaths.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Coronavirus: Symptoms
Photo by Brittany Colette on Unsplash

Symptoms of coronavirus are similar to those of a regular flu. If you develop severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or diarrhea, you should consult your doctor or nearest disease control authority:

  • A persistent dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Body ache
  • Runny nose

Who is at risk?

Most healthy adults recover from COVID-19 without needing any
special or intensive treatment. However, if you fall into the following
segments of the population, you are likely to develop more serious symptoms. These
are the people who are at risk:

  • Older people
  • Those with high blood pressure
  • Those with diabetes
  • Those with a cardiovascular disease (heart problems)
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system

Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Protective measures against coronavirus

How can you protect yourself and loved ones against being infected or potentially spreading the virus?

The most important thing you can do RIGHT NOW is to stay informed, and to follow the right sources covering coronavirus news.

Here’s what you can do to prevent the spread of the coronavirus if you have recently travelled to an affected country:

  • Inform your health service provider if you begin to feel unwell.
  • Self-isolate: stay indoors and avoid contact with people until your health provider has seen to you.
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Hand sanitisers with a high alcohol content will also keep you safe, but it will always be best to just wash your hands with regular soap and warm water.
  • Avoid shaking hands with people and maintain a safe distance from people who are visibly coughing, sneezing and generally unwell.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially around the mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • If you do have a cold or flu, it’s always a good practice to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Again, if you are unwell, stay at home!

As of 4 March, the global death toll was 3,190, while more than 93,000 people have been infected in more than 80 countries.

How to properly wash your hands

Video source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

We often take it for granted that we all know how to basically wash our hands, but you would be surprised to know how many people don’t really wash and scrub properly. So, we’re going to break it down step by step:

  1. Using clean running water if you can
  2. Rinse both hands
  3. Apply a generous amount of soap and rub your hands for at least 20 seconds
  4. Remember to rub the front and back of your hands and between the fingers
  5. Clean underneath your nails (use a nail brush if you have one)
  6. Rinse your hands well
  7. Dry your hands on a clean towel, or better still, just air-dry them
  8. Remember to wash your towels after use if you are unwell and if you have recently travelled to an affected region

Protective Face Masks

Video source: World Health Organisation (WHO)

You will often see people wearing protective face masks in media coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Protective face masks are to be used if you are
    ill, to help prevent the spread of the virus and any other virus like the flu OR
    if you are caring for someone with the virus.
  • Avoid buying these in bulk if you are not ill,
    as you will be removing access to life-saving items from those who really need
    it and unnecessarily driving up the price.
  • A face mask alone is not enough. You also need
    to practice all the preventative measures listed above like washing your hands
  • Avoid touching the mask when it is on your face,
    and dispose of it (ideally in a closed bag within a bin and removed from the
    inside of your home).

Which is the right preventative mask?

Regular surgical masks are not sufficient to prevent the spread of the virus; however, they do help prevent the spread of other pathogens.

The correct face mask to use in coronavirus cases is a N95 respirator mask, or similar.

Image source:

Travelling during the COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus: Travelling
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Which countries currently have the highest death toll and risk of being infected with the coronavirus?

Due to the information changing on a daily (even hourly) basis, it’s important to stay updated regularly if you are planning on travelling any time soon.

Here’s the latest information on high risk countries and their protective measures against the spread of coronavirus at the time of publishing:


China has implemented a 14-day quarantine for travellers entering the country. It is advisable to cancel or postpone plans to travel to China if possible until it is safe.

According to “Some local governments in China have urged overseas Chinese to reconsider their homecoming plans for the sake of their “family’s health and safety.”

  • Total cases: 80,430
  • Total deaths: 3,013
  • Active cases: 25,187
  • Total recovered: 52,230

South Korea

Daegu and Cheongdo have been declared “special care zones”. Workers can be seen spraying and disinfecting public spaces in and around Daegu on a regular basis as the country works on curbing the spread of coronavirus.

As with China, it is advisable to postpone travel to South Korea if possible.

  • Total cases: 5,766
  • Total deaths: 36
  • Active cases: 5,642
  • Total recovered: 88


Iran has the third highest death toll arising from the
coronavirus outbreak, and has implemented travel restrictions between major cities.
 A number of countries have since put
travel bans to restrict the influx of people from Iran.

  • Total cases: 3,513
  • Total deaths: 107
  • Active cases: 2,854
  • Total recovered: 552


Italy is currently the worst hit country in Europe. The country has since closed all schools and cancelled a number of international events until around mid-March. Travellers arriving from Italy have brought the first cases of coronavirus to Africa (Nigeria and South Africa).

  • Total cases: 3,089
  • Total deaths: 107
  • Active cases: 2,706
  • Total recovered: 276


The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has recorded the highest
number of cases in the country so far, according to
They have also cancelled international events including the world’s largest
tourism fair – ITB.

  • Total cases: 349
  • Total deaths: 0
  • Active cases: 333
  • Total recovered: 16


Japan’s cases of COVID-19 are confined to the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently docked and quarantined in Yokohama. There is currently a 2-week quarantine imposed for travellers coming in from China and South Korea.

  • Total cases: 331
  • Total deaths: 6
  • Active cases: 282
  • Total recovered: 43

Common Misconceptions About Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Common Myths
Image by memyselfaneye from Pixabay

You can get coronavirus from goods made in China or by shopping at Asian supermarkets.

This is false. The coronavirus will not remain on goods that have been exposed to changes in environment (like heat, humidity, cold). It is safe to purchase and consume goods from China without the risk of contracting coronavirus.

Certain foods,home remedies and flu medication can help cure the disease.

Chicken soup, healthy foods, garlic, wellness products and regular flu medication such as antibiotics will not cure the COVID-19 disease nor will it prevent infection.

If you have recently travelled to an affected region or come into contact with a sick person, it’s always best to self-isolate, practice good personal hygiene, and contact your nearest healthcare provider for preventative measures.

According to the World Health Organisation, ” The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.”.

Leaked Bio-weapon?

No, coronavirus is not a man-made virus meant for some diabolical purpose. The virus is not a leaked bio-weapon, nor is it a cattle vaccine that mutated.

The origins of the virus have been traced back to a meat market in Wuhan, China where the possibility of cross contamination with sick animals might’ve created the perfect conditions for the virus to transfer to humans who consumed the meat – scientists are still working on the cause in more detail.

Following the coronavirus conspiracy theories? Check our list of the top stories doing the rounds in our guide: Coronavirus: All the Conspiracy Theories 

Pets can transmit the virus.

This is mostly false and exaggerated in the media. You’ve seen the article about the dog in Hong Kong, but don’t worry, it was a weak positive result, in other words, it was a very low level of infection.  There is no scientific proof that coronavirus can be transmitted from dogs to humans, so your furry friend is safe!

You need to stock up on face masks, hand sanitiser and disinfectant before the shops run out.

Seriously, don’t do this. Around the world, shelves are going empty due to unnecessary panic spread by misinformation. When people stockpile medical and personal care supplies, others in need have to go without. So do the right thing and only purchase as much as you need for you and your family, and leave the rest on the shelf for others.

Stockpiling drives up the prices of ordinary items to such
an extent that they quickly become too expensive.

PS: You don’t need a face mask if you are not sick, but you do need one if you are caring for an sick person.


It might make you laugh at the thought of the beer brand Corona being the cause of the outbreak. However, in the United States alone, Google search results for “corona beer virus” have skyrocketed as misinformation spreads throughout the country.

So, in short, the answer is a NO, you can’t get coronavirus from Corona beer!

Staying Informed

Coronavirus: Staying Informed
Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

There is clearly a lot of news on the topic, and rightly so. Many people are worried about making travel arrangements, attending conferences and doing business internationally and this is a valid concern.

While there is no cause for panic, you should always practice common sense when it comes to personal hygiene and etiquette.

With the news cycle being so busy and new cases being reported on the hour, it might become difficult to keep track of everything. Avoid the information overload, and download our app to stay up to date with the details that matter.


Worldodometer: Coronavirus:

World Health Organisation:

UK Government Foreign Travel Advice for Italy:

BBC News Live updates:

BBC News Asia:

German Health Ministry:

Schengen Visa Travel Information for Germany:

Coronavirus updates from Japan:

Coronavirus Outbreak: Kyodo News (English):

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