WHO Answers COVID-19-Related Questions


The World Health Organization (WHO) answers a few questions from the public.

Can COVID-19 only be transmitted in hot and humid areas?

According to the evidence so far the virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including hot and humid areas.

If you live in areas or travel to areas where COVID-19 has been reported, remember to implement protective measures.

Does cold weather kill COVID-19?

No. The body’s normal temperature remains about 36.5 – 37⁰C, whether the external temperature or weather is different.

The best way to protect your body is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser.

Is COVID-19 airborne?

No. It is mainly spread by droplets generated by an infected person when they cough, sneeze or speak.

The droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and therefore fall to the floor or surfaces.

You can get the virus by breathing it in if you are within 1 metre of the infected person or if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.

Does taking a hot bath prevent you from getting COVID-19?

No. A hot bath with extremely hot water can actually be harmful to your body as it can burn you.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through mosquito bites?

So far there is no information or evidence that suggests that the virus can be transmitted by mosquitoes.

This virus occurs in the respiratory tract and can spread through droplets which were generated by an infected person who coughs or sneezes or even through droplets/mucus from the nose.

Can hand dryers kill COVID-19?

No. Instead wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Once your hands are clean then you can dry it under a warm air dryer.

Can an ultraviolet disinfection lamp kill COVID-19?

No. It should be used to sterilise your hands because UV radiation is harmful to your skin and can cause skin irritation.

What is the effectivity of thermal scanners in detecting COVID-19-infected people?

Thermal scanners can detect whether people have a fever (when the normal body temperature is higher than it should be) because of the COVID-19.

However, thermal scanners cannot detect who is infected if they don’t have a fever. It normally takes 2-10 days before people start showing symptoms and become feverish.

Can spraying alcohol or chlorine over your body kill COVID-19?

No. In fact, these substances can damage your clothes or be harmful to the mucous membranes (like the eyes and mouth). Both alcohol and chlorine can be used to disinfect surfaces but under appropriate recommendations and instructions.

Does drinking alcohol protect me against COVID-19?

No. Excessive and regular alcohol consumption can increase your risk of falling sick.

If you can hold your breath for more than 10 seconds without coughing or sneezing does that mean you don’t have COVID-19?

No. You are not free from COVID-19 or any other lung diseases.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, fever, and fatigue. More severe cases will normally develop pneumonia.

You can only confirm whether you have the virus or not through a laboratory test that tests for COVID-19.

Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against COVID-19?

No. Vaccines against pneumonia, like pneumococcal vaccine or Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19.

The virus needs its own vaccine because it is new and different. Researchers are still busy developing one and WHO is supporting them in their efforts.

WHO recommends vaccination against respiratory illness to protect your health.

Does regularly rinsing your nose with saline prevent infection with COVID-19?

No. There is no evidence showing that rinsing your nose with saline can prevent respiratory infections.

On the other hand, there is limited evidence showing that rinsing your nose with saline can speed up your recovery from the common cold.

Does COVID-19 affect older people or are younger people more susceptible?

People of all ages can contract the virus.

Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) seem to be more susceptible to the virus and become very ill.

WHO advises the public to protect themselves by practicing good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

Are antibiotics effective in the prevention of COVID-19?

No. Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections.

However, if you are hospitalised for contracting COVID-19, you may be given antibiotics because bacterial co-infections are possible.

What other medication can you use to prevent or treat COVID-19?

Currently, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19.

Infected people receive appropriate care to treat the symptoms and those with more severe cases should get supportive care.

Specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials.

If you have more questions, you can visit the World Health Organization’s website on www.who.int or the South African Coronavirus website on www.sacoronavirus.co.za.