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Virus FAQ

FAQ - Virus

The below handbook is a summary of the most important and frequently asked questions about SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 disease.   The collected information and answers were based on a number of sources listed at the end of this page.

Videos from external institutions

Basic info about SARS-CoV-2 virus (video from the Ministry of Health)

Everything you need to know about SARS-CoV-2 virus (video from the Polish Association of the Deaf)

Answers to FAQs

1. What is coronavirus?
The new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causes COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019). We talk about the “new coronavirus”, because this is the seventh discovered virus from the coronavirus family that may cause infection in people.

2. What are the coronavirus symptoms?
The disease most often manifests itself in fever (above 38°C), cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain and fatigue. The course of coronavirus infection can be different - from asymptomatic, through a mild respiratory disease, to severe pneumonia, or even multi-organ failure and septic shock. However, most cases are mild.

3. How frequent are the symptoms?
A severe course of the disease is observed in approx. 15-20% of the whole population. About 2-3% of sick people die. These data are probably overstated, because many people with mild course of infection had no laboratory confirmation.

4. Who is most exposed?
Elderly people, with lower immunity and other diseases (especially chronic) are most exposed to development of severe form of the disease and death.

5. I’m an elderly person. What should I do to protect myself against coronavirus?
We recommend that elderly people should keep away from public places and, if possible, do not leave their houses. It’s good to ask your family and friends for help in shopping. You should also supply yourself with medications taken on a regular basis – call your General Practitioner to give you an e-prescription. If a patient has access to Internet Patient Account and enters their phone number there, the access code to e-prescription will be sent by SMS.

6. How to protect yourself against coronavirus?
Pathogen is transmitted via droplets.  Currently, there is no vaccine against the new coronavirus. However, you can use other methods of preventing infection, which are presented  HERE.These methods are also used in order to prevent other diseases that are transmitted via droplets, e.g. seasonal influenza (with peak of incidence from January to March each year).

7. Why is it important to wash your hands in order to prevent coronavirus?
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is covered by fat (lipid) membrane, so we can prevent the infection by frequently washing our hands with common soap under hot water. We can also use alcohol-based liquids/gels for disinfection. When you finish washing your hands, dry them with a paper towel, which should be immediately disposed of in a closed waste bin. Please remember that hand-dryers do not kill the pathogen.

8. I suspect that I have coronavirus. What should I do?
Call immediately the nearest sanitary and epidemiological station (the list of all stations in Poland is available HERE). Isolate yourself from other people until you receive help.

Each station has an emergency telephone number available 24 hours a day. The telephone numbers are published on the websites of district sanitary and epidemiological stations. In some cases, the telephone number of the head of the station may be provided. The websites do not always include the information that the number is available 24 hours a day.

Symptoms such as fever above 38°C, cough and shortness of breath require consultation in an infectious diseases ward. Avoid public transport on your way to hospital. There are seven infectious diseases wards in the Silesian Voivodeship:

  • Bytom, Szpital Specjalistyczny nr 1, al. Legionów 49
  • Chorzów, Szpital Specjalistyczny, ul. Zjednoczenia 10
  • Cieszyn, Zespół Zakładów Opieki Zdrowotnej, ul. Bielska 4
  • Częstochowa, Wojewódzki Szpital Specjalistyczny im. NMP, ul. Polskiego Czerwonego Krzyża 7
  • Racibórz, Szpital Rejonowy im. dr. Józefa Rostka, ul. Gamowska 3
  • Tychy, Megrez Sp. z o.o., ul. Edukacji 102
  • Zawiercie, Szpital Powiatowy, ul. Miodowa 14

9. Can I have a private coronavirus test? How much does it cost?
It is the doctor who decides if you should have a coronavirus test. World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend commercial coronavirus tests.

10. If I don’t have insurance, will I be treated free of charge in case I have coronavirus infection?
Yes. Patients with coronavirus symptoms will be treated free of charge, even if they don’t have insurance.

11. Can I get a sick leave for quarantine?
Quarantine decisions are taken by the State District Sanitary Inspectorate. Such decision is the basis for any allowance payments to be made by ZUS (Social Insurance Institution).

12. Can a doctor issue a sick leave certificate during a telephone consultation?
Yes, it is possible. You can get the telephone number to the clinic where a doctor can provide telephone consultation by calling Telephone Patient Information (helpline no. 800 190 590). The doctor will decide if you should get a sick leave certificate.

13. Are there any medicines, supplements or vitamins to improve my immunity and protect me against coronavirus?
There are currently no recommendations saying that you can be protected against coronavirus by taking specific medicines, supplements or vitamins.

14. Can masks protect me against coronavirus?
World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend wearing a face mask if you are healthy. In Poland, the order to wear face masks or scarves covering the nose and mouth in public space has been introduced from 16 April 2020. The restriction does not apply to:

  • children until the age of 4,
  • individuals who have problems with breathing (it is not required to present a judgment or certificate),
  • individuals who are unable to put on or take off the face protection due to health condition (it is not required to present a judgment or certificate),
  • individuals travelling by car – if the passengers live together,
  • individuals travelling by car – if there is only the driver, or the driver with a child until the age of 4 in the car,
  • employees in workplaces, public utility buildings and commercial premises. IMPORTANT! The individuals who directly serve the stakeholders or customers in these places are obliged to cover their mouth and nose!
  • public transport and private carrier drivers – provided that they are isolated from passengers with a protective screen,
  • priests during religious service,
  • farmers performing work on a farm,
  • soldiers of Polish Armed Forces and allied armies, as well as Military Counterintelligence Service and Military Intelligence Service officers during performance of their professional duties,
  • people staying in a forest,
  • during horse-riding,
  • referees, coaches and athletes in the sport facilities whose activities have been resumed (more details can be found in the point on sports).

15. Can available pneumonia vaccines protect me against the novel coronavirus?
No, vaccines against pneumococcus or Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) do not provide any protection against the novel coronavirus.  At present, there are two mRNA vaccines permitted for use in EU countries. They protect against the symptoms of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Several other preparations are currently being tested in laboratories. Detailed information about vaccinations in Poland.

16. Are there medicines against the novel coronavirus infection?
No, fight against the disease at the moment consists in treatment of symptoms and respiratory complications. However, several methods are being tested in order to achieve the effective way to combat the novel coronavirus on an ongoing basis. For example, the efficiency of lopinavir-ritonavir combination therapy (based on HIV antivirals) is being tested.

17. Does sprinkling your body with vodka or fluids that contain chlorine help to destroy coronavirus?
No, WHO strongly warns against the application of the above methods. Spraying alcohol or chlorine compounds on skin in the situation when the virus has already penetrated into organism does not help and may cause the risk of skin damage. You should disinfect your hands using liquids, gels and sprays with alcohol, which are specifically designed for this purpose. You can use cleaning agents with alcohol or chlorine compounds for cleaning surfaces, but only in accordance with the instructions of use.

You can read about other false myths about SARS-CoV-2 in „Myth Busters” section on WHO website.

18. Does payment by card protect me against infection?
Basically yes. There have been instructions to use contactless payment cards instead of banknotes. The problem is not the banknotes that we have in our wallets, but the ones that we get in a shop, which may have come from an infected person. Such a banknote may indeed by contaminated with a virus (e.g. because of sneezing or coughing). However, this threat is more theoretical than real. WHO recommendation: avoid touching your face and wash your hands after contact with banknotes. In fact, this advice applies to everything in the public space that may be touched by many people, e.g. banknotes, ticket machines, handles, etc. The best method to counteract this manner of infection is to frequently wash yourself with water.

19. Can pet dogs and cats transmit coronavirus?
On 5 March the authorities of Hong Kong informed that a pet dog had a ‘low-level infection’ of the novel coronavirus. Its owner was in quarantine, because his test gave a positive result - he was infected. It is not known how the virus supposedly got into the dog’s organism: whether it was directly by the owner via droplets, or through contact with a contaminated surface. However, on 12 March WHO declared that currently there is no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats could be infected with virus, or transmit it between one another, or infect humans with it. However, when you touch a dog or cat (even when you stroke it as usual), it will always be a good practice to wash your hands, which will prevent common bacterial infection (e.g. E. coli or salmonella).

20. Can the virus be transmitted via food?
On 9 March the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a statement that in accordance with the current knowledge there is no evidence that food may be a source or indirect link of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission (source).

EFSA builds in this respect on the experience with SARS and MERS viruses. The European Food Safety Authority emphasizes that it continues to monitor the situation related to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which is the source of incidence in many countries. EFSA also reminds that in order to maintain the microbiological safety of food, it is important to strictly respect the basic food safety rules, which help to prevent its contamination, including secondary contamination at the stage of distribution and sale. Just in case, please remember that precise heat treatment (for example cooking at a temperature of 60°C) destroys the virus - therefore, in case of meat and raw materials, typical heat treatment eliminates microbiological contamination.

21. Can I get infected with coronavirus via shipments from China?
The risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection via goods ordered from China is very low. Our medical knowledge about this coronavirus is still limited, so the scientists are building certain analogies based on what we know about similar viruses, such as SARS, MERS and endemic coronaviruses. German doctors from the Greifswald University Hospital and virologists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum have estimated that SARS-CoV-2 may last on materials such as wood, plastics, aluminum, paper and glass for 4–5 days on the average (source). The fastest method of shipping goods from China (air transport) takes 4-7 days.

Sources of presented information:


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Important contact data:

NFZ - 24/7 coronavirus helpline:
phone no. 800 190 590

District Sanitary and Epidemiological Station in Katowice - 24/7 coronavirus helpline:
phone no. 660 686 917

Nearest infection wards:

  • Bytom (Szpital Specjalistyczny nr 1, al. Legionów 49),
  • Chorzów (Szpital Specjalistyczny, ul. Zjednoczenia 10),
  • Tychy (Szpital Megrez, ul. Edukacji 102),
  • Cieszyn (Szpital Śląski, ul. Bielska 4).

Full list of infection wards:

University of Silesia in Katowice
ul. Bankowa 12, 40-007 Katowice
phone no. +48 32 359 22 22
NIP: 634-019-71-34

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