Coronavirus: What are the symptoms and how can you avoid getting it?

Coronavirus: What are the symptoms and how can you avoid getting it?

The coronavirus is spreading fast! So, how can you tell if you’ve got it? And if you have it, what should you do?

Coronavirus symptoms

People infected with the COVID-19 virus often experience symptoms similar to those of the flu: fever higher than 38C, coughing and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include muscle pain, confusion, headache and a sore throat. However, for a potential coronavirus infection, you’ll have to have been in an area where the virus has spread to or have come into contact with an infected person.

It’s not necessarily the case that you’ll feel extremely sick if you have contracted the virus. In known cases of the virus, only 17 percent of those infected experienced severe to extremely severe symptoms. The majority of those succumbing to the virus are elderly or have compromised immune systems because of other illnesses. 

What to do if you think you have coronavirus

If you think you have been infected with the coronavirus – you have some of the above-mentioned symptoms and you have been in an area to which the virus has spread of have been in contact with an infected individual – you may need to call your GP. The RIVM has stated that you only need to call your GP if you have both of the following symptoms:

  • You have a fever of over 38C
  • You have to cough or you have problems breathing  

They will then arrange for you to be tested by the Municipal Health Service (GGD). You’ll get the results within 24 hours. If you only have mild symptoms, you don't need to call your doctor, just stay home. 

If you haven’t got any symptoms, there is no point in getting yourself tested for the coronavirus, as without symptoms, the test can’t establish whether you have the virus.

How is coronavirus spread and how can you avoid getting it?

Coronavirus is spread from person to person via particles that are released when one coughs and sneezes. To date, it seems as though it is mostly passed on by those who show (severe) symptoms. There are only a few cases of asymptomatic infections.

There are a few things you can do to avoid getting it. According to the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), measures to avoid getting the virus are no different than those for preventing the spread of flu. Make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow or use tissues. Don't shake other peoples' hands. If you are sick, stay home. Also, make sure you avoid people who are coughing - stay at least 1,5 metres away from others in general.

At this moment in time, there is no official treatment for the virus and a vaccine has not yet been developed. Both treatment and a vaccine are being worked on.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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