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COVID-19 - Common Questions and Misconceptions

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COVID-19 - Common Questions and Misconceptions

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COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This article aims to shed light on the incorrect data and provides correct information.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At May 16, 2020
Reviewed AtAugust 4, 2023


COVID-19 is a infectious disease caused due to a virus called SARS-CoV-2. It was reported as a pneumonia-like illness on December 31st, 2019, detected in Wuhan city, China. Since then, this disease has progressed to be a global pandemic. It is under investigation around the globe to understand the virus better and work on vaccine and drug development. This article focuses on the common questions regarding the new coronavirus COVID-19.

As it is a newly emerged virus, several misconceptions are revolving around it, and the article aims to shed light on the incorrect data and provide correct information based on CDC and WHO operational guidelines and SPRP.

We live in an era of abundance knowledge, information (correct and incorrect), and connectivity. Fear has escalated during the last few months regarding the new coronavirus due to a lot of rumors and spread of false information via social media platforms. In this article, I will focus on the common questions and concerns about COVID-19. I will also address some common questions and misinformation regarding the disease.

What Are the Symptoms of COVID 19?

The main symptoms include high-grade fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and body pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or even diarrhea.

It is possible that one might get infected with the virus but may not show any visible symptoms initially but eventually begin exhibiting the symptoms. 80 percent of people recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Whereas, 1 out of 6 infected with COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty in breathing.

How Does the Virus Spread?

The novel coronavirus disease can spread via an infected person through small droplets from the nose or mouth when they cough or exhale. It can also spread by touching infected objects or surfaces such as keys, door handles, etc., and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person infected with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. Hence, keep more than 1 meter (3 feet) distance from a suspected case or an infected person.

Mask and COVID-19:

One important question that everyone has been asking is regarding wearing masks for protection. The World Health Organization recommends wearing a mask only if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after an infected person or in a susceptible environment. There is no need to wear masks at home or in a safe environment.

There is a worldwide shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including masks for even healthcare providers at the moment, so WHO urges people not to waste masks. To protect yourself and others, it is recommended that you frequently wash your hands and maintain a safe distance of at least (3 feet) 1 meter from people who might be infected. You can also use a tissue to cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing.

Pets and COVID-19:

Since the outbreak is of zoonotic origin (originated from animal source), many people are now concerned whether pets can cause COVID-19. No, at this moment, no cases or evidence has suggested transmission of the COVID-19 virus via pets. Just make sure you take care of the personal hygiene of your pets.

Temperature and COVID-19:

There have been rumors that there is a connection between COVID-19 and temperature. Currently, it is unknown if weather and temperature have any relationship with the spread or prevention of COVID-19.

How Long Does the Virus Survive on Surfaces?

WHO has not confirmed an exact time duration for it till now but here is a close enough approximation:

  1. Metal door knobs, jewellery - Up to 5 days.

  2. Plastic bottles, bags, seats - 2 to 3 days.

  3. Glass utensils, windows - Up to 5 days.

  4. Paper books, newspaper - Up to 5 days.

  5. Ceramic utensils, decorative items - 5 days.

  6. Wood furniture, decorative items - 4 days.

  7. Stainless steel bottles, handles - 2 to 3 days.

  8. Aluminum cans, bottles - 2 to 8 hours.

  9. Food or drinks - No evidence of transmission through food.

Can We Use Antibiotics for Prevention and Treatment Against COVID 19?

No. Antibiotics work against bacterial infections only; hence they are useless against COVID-19 as it is a viral disease.

If Antibiotics Cannot Be Used for Treatment of COVID 19, Is There a Vaccine or Treatment Available?

No. To date, there is no vaccine or antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those affected should receive immediate care to relieve symptoms. People with serious symptoms should be hospitalized. Most patients recover from the disease with supportive care and symptomatic treatment. However, possible vaccines and specific drug treatments are under investigation.

How Long Is the Incubation Period of the Disease?

The incubation period is the time period between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms. For the COVID-19 infection, it ranges from 1 to 14 days, most commonly about five days.

As COVID 19 Virus Can Survive on Surfaces, Is It Safe to Receive Packages From COVID 19 Infected Areas?

Yes. The risk of getting infected via a package that has traveled and exposed to different countries, conditions, and temperatures is very low. However, make sure you maintain a distance of 1 meter from the person delivering the package.

Is It Safe to Breastfeed If a Woman Is Infected With COVID 19?

Yes, if a mother wishes to do so, she can breastfeed, but make sure to practice respiratory and hand hygiene and wear a mask.

Is It Possible to Get Infected With Coronavirus via a Blood Transfusion?

Currently, there is no evidence suggesting that it can be transmitted while donating or receiving blood. As long as both individuals feel healthy and basic hygiene protocols are followed.

As the Symptoms of the Virus Are Similar to Flu, How Do I Know If It Is COVID 19 or Just the Common Flu?

The symptomatology of COVID-19 infection is similar to flu or common cold; hence it is necessary to confirm the results using a laboratory PCR test. However, several factors help to assess your risk of being infected by the virus. There are several online risk assessment resources that can help you to get a better idea before visiting a hospital directly.

How Can I Get Tested for COVID 19?

If you are well with no apparent symptoms, no testing is recommended. If you are experiencing symptoms, you must isolate yourself from friends and family and use separate utensils also if possible. Inform your local COVID-19 designated medical facility regarding your symptoms as well as your travel history and contact list. The medical team will then advise you regarding the procedure and whether to get tested or not.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Represents the Primary Difficulty Posed by COVID-19?

The primary difficulty posed by COVID-19 is its highly contagious nature and rapid global spread. The virus's ability to transmit easily among individuals has led to widespread outbreaks, overwhelming healthcare systems, and necessitating drastic public health measures such as lockdowns and travel restrictions. Additionally, its asymptomatic transmission has made it challenging to identify and isolate cases effectively, contributing to the virus's persistent impact on societies worldwide.


Among These Options, Which Complication Is the Most Frequently Observed Outcome of COVID-19?

Among the options, the most frequently observed complication of COVID-19 is respiratory distress, particularly acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS can result in severe breathing difficulties, reduced lung function, and the need for intensive medical intervention such as mechanical ventilation. This complication is especially common in individuals with underlying health conditions and the elderly, highlighting the critical importance of monitoring and managing respiratory symptoms in COVID-19 cases.


What Is the Duration of Immunity Following a COVID Infection?

The duration of immunity following a COVID-19 infection varies from person to person. Research suggests that most individuals develop some immune response after infection, which may protect against reinfection for several months. However, the exact length of immunity remains uncertain and can be influenced by factors such as the severity of the initial infection and the emergence of new virus variants. Ongoing studies are essential to better understand the longevity of immune responses to COVID-19.


In the Context of the Pandemic, What Do Students Face the Predominant Challenge Today?

In the context of the pandemic, students today face the predominant challenge of adapting to remote learning and disrupted educational routines. The shift to online classes has posed difficulties in maintaining engagement, interacting with peers and teachers, and managing their studies in a less structured environment. Additionally, the lack of access to physical classrooms and resources has impacted students' overall learning experience and emotional well-being, highlighting the need for innovative solutions to support their education during these unprecedented times.


What Has Had the Most Significant Societal Impact Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The most significant societal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the disruption of global healthcare systems and economies. The virus's rapid spread led to overwhelmed healthcare infrastructures, shortages of medical supplies, and strained medical personnel. Economically, lockdowns and restrictions led to business closures, job losses, and financial instability for many. These combined effects have highlighted vulnerabilities in healthcare and economic systems, sparking discussions about the need for preparedness and resilience in future crises.


Who Is the Most Susceptible to the Effects of COVID-19?

The elderly and individuals who already have health conditions are the most susceptible. These groups often experience more severe respiratory symptoms, a higher risk of hospitalization, and an increased likelihood of mortality compared to younger and healthier individuals. Understanding this higher susceptibility has driven public health efforts to prioritize vaccinations and protective measures for these vulnerable populations to reduce their risk of exposure and severe illness.


How Does the Pandemic Influence the Field of Education?

The pandemic has significantly influenced education, necessitating a widespread shift to remote and online learning methods. Educational institutions had to quickly adapt their teaching strategies and adopt digital platforms to ensure continuity of learning. Educators are reevaluating teaching approaches and exploring ways to balance the benefits and limitations of remote learning to provide effective education in these changing circumstances.


What Is the Duration for Which a Person Can Continue to Test Positive for COVID-19?

The duration for which a person can continue to test positive for Covid varies widely and depends on multiple factors. Generally, individuals are considered contagious for up to 10 days after symptom onset, but some may continue to test positive for a few weeks due to residual viral genetic material. It's crucial to base decisions on ending isolation on symptoms, clinical recovery, and guidance from healthcare professionals rather than solely on test results to prevent unnecessarily prolonged isolation and support a safe return to normal activities.


Which Individuals Are More Likely to Experience Long Covid?

Individuals with Covid-19 are more likely to experience long-term COVID-19 if they have endured moderate to severe initial symptoms. Long Covid refers to a condition where symptoms persist for weeks or even months after the acute phase of the infection has passed. Common Covid symptoms include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell. Research is ongoing to understand better why some individuals develop longer.


How Can Long Covid Be Prevented or Mitigated?

Preventing or mitigating long-term COVID-19 involves a multidisciplinary approach. Rest and gradual return to physical activity is important, as pushing too hard can exacerbate symptoms. Seeking medical advice and working with healthcare professionals to address specific symptoms is crucial. Cognitive and emotional aspects should also be considered, with support from mental health professionals if needed. Research is ongoing to determine effective treatments and interventions to alleviate the prolonged effects of Covid-19.


At What Point Does the Severity of a COVID-19 Infection Tend to Increase?

The severity of a COVID-19 infection tends to worsen in individuals with preexisting health conditions, weakened immune systems, or older age. As the virus primarily attacks the respiratory system, those with underlying lung or heart issues may experience more severe respiratory distress. Timely medical intervention and monitoring of symptoms are crucial in preventing the progression of the illness to severe stages, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or other complications that can lead to hospitalization.


Is It Possible to Have COVID-19 While Receiving a Negative Test Result?

Yes, it is possible to have COVID-19 and receive a negative test result, especially if the test is conducted during the early stages of infection when viral load might be low or before symptoms develop. Tests like the PCR test can also yield false negatives due to sample collection or laboratory processing issues. Therefore, if symptoms persist or exposure is suspected, it's advisable to consider retesting or consulting a healthcare professional for further evaluation, even if an initial test is negative.


Do Individuals Develop Immunity Against COVID-19?

While people can develop immunity to COVID-19 after infection, the duration and strength of this immunity can vary. Some studies suggest that antibodies may wane over time, potentially leading to a risk of reinfection. Vaccination has provided more consistent and durable immunity in many cases by stimulating the immune system to produce a robust response without the severe illness associated with natural infection. It's important to note that immunity is a complex topic, and ongoing research is essential to understand its nuances fully.


Can a Person Contract COVID-19 a Second Time?

Yes, individuals can contract COVID-19 a second time. While reinfections are relatively rare, several cases have been documented. The immunity developed after an initial infection might not provide lifelong protection, and new virus variants can potentially evade the immune response to some extent. Vaccination is recommended even for those who have previously been infected, as it can enhance and broaden the immune response against a wider range of virus variants.


What Were the Effects of COVID-19 on Mental Well-being?

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on mental well-being globally. The pandemic's uncertainties, social isolation, economic challenges, and health concerns have increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Lockdowns and restrictions have disrupted routines and access to support systems, exacerbating these mental health issues. Frontline workers and individuals with preexisting mental health conditions are particularly vulnerable. Addressing these effects requires a comprehensive approach, including increased mental health support, counseling services, and public awareness to reduce stigma and promote well-being.
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Dr. Hira Chaudhry
Dr. Hira Chaudhry

Family Physician


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