Coronavirus: Experts answer your burning COVID-19 questions

Virus Outbreak Spain
Virus Outbreak Spain Copyright Santi Palacios/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright Santi Palacios/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
By euronews
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Every week on Euronews, we're bringing together a panel of leading experts in a variety of fields to answer your coronavirus questions.


You've got a lot of coronavirus questions — and we're committed to bringing you the answers. 

In a live Q&A session on Euronews Now, we put some of your questions to our panel of experts: Dr Nathalie McDermott, an infectious disease specialist with a focus on paediatrics; Dr Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist and scientist; and Dr Brock Chisolm, a psychologist.

We'll have another group of experts ready to answer your questions live on Friday at 8 pm CEST. Tune in and ask questions on Euronews' Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Facebook pages.

How much longer is this situation going to continue getting worse?

"That's a difficult question to answer," said Dr McDermott. "We're probably going to see it continue to escalate for a period of time in different countries, and I think once it's settled down in Europe, we're probably going to see it escalate in other regions of the world, particularly on the African continent."

"Yeah, I completely agree," said Dr Bogoch. "We've only known this virus has existed for three months, and clearly some countries are farther along in their epidemics than others. We're just starting to take off sadly, in the Americas, whereas we've seen Asian countries start to lift some of these public health measures. So I think the short answer is we don't know, the longer answer is it's going to be a while. And what does a while mean, we need to really be patient here, it's going to be measured in months, not weeks."

How can we stay calm and happy in the midst of this pandemic?

"Try and keep in contact with the people that we know and we love, but through communications other than direct contact," said Dr Chisolm. "The other thing to say is we can control the things we can, like washing our hands, but there will be other things that we can't control, and we'll have to learn to accept that for now. Not trying to completely predict what's going to happen might be better, living in the moment - and by that I mean focusing on what is important right now rather than worrying about the future is really all we can do right now."

How does the virus affect pregnant women?

At the moment we have relatively limited data on how it affect pregnant women, although I think that amount of data's increasing," said Dr McDermott. "What we understand from China is it doesn't necessarily affect pregnant women particularly badly. And it doesn't necessarily infect their infants, when they're born. Although it is a possibility, if the mom is infected around the time the baby is delivered, that the baby could become infected. But even in those newborns, we've tended to see that they've done quite well, and haven't been particularly unwell with the virus."

Why does the virus seem to be spreading much faster in the less-populated Europe when compared to a densely-populated Asia?

"I think that's a good question, it's one we would hope to answer at the end of the epidemic rather than during it, when we can do further studies and understand the dynamics of transmission a little bit better," said Dr McDermott. "We do know that China isolated Wuhan very quickly when they identified that the virus was starting to spread there. I think perhaps in Europe we had a period of time where we were in a bit of a lull, thinking that we had managed to contain the virus and not really recognising the power of asymptomatic transmission of the virus within communities. And so I think that once we finally recognized that appropriately in Italy, we then already had several weeks of the virus spreading in Italy before we identified the first confirmed case."

"It also happened to time itself quite nicely with school holidays within Europe, so a lot of people were travelling to Italy at that time, and a lot of people who had already been exposed in Italy travelled outside of the country on holiday. And so we had quite good dissemination of the virus throughout Europe in that holiday period."

Once you have had COVID-19, can you get it again, and if the virus mutated would that change?

"In all fairness, we don't truly have an answer for this, but the main consensus now is that if somebody is infected with COVID-19 during the course of this pandemic, it is unlikely that they will be re-infected," said Dr Bogoch. "But of course, we know that viruses change with time, and perhaps if they were infected and are now immune to it during the course of this pandemic, perhaps they could be infected with it in the future. I should say that we don't really know, these are just the prevailing theories right now."

How long can the virus live outside the body?

"In the New England Journal of Medicine, there was a conducted study that looked at this very issue," said Dr Bogoch. "And they put the virus on different types of materials, they put in on cardboard, on plastics, on metals. And essentially, they realized that the virus could live for about two hours to two days depending on the type of surface. It could still be detected longer than that but it wasn't really viable, it wasn't able to transmit infection longer than that. So that reiterates the point about hand hygiene, because we might be touching various different surfaces through the day - elevator buttons, doorknobs, escalator handles, whatever. And because this virus can live on surfaces for a couple of hours to a couple of days, it's just extremely important that we be mindful of hand hygiene."

Can we go too far with cleaning - and have it affect our mental health?

"I think the advice here is to try to control the things that we do have control over, such as handwashing, but also try to not overly control the things that we can't control," said Dr Chisolm. "So of course, washing things, cleaning door handles, alcohol rub and so on, but when there is not a threat, for example you're isolating in your house, you're not coming into contact with people or you're still in contact with the same family members, then over-cleaning is likely to lead to more difficulties."

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