On Saturday evening we opened up for you to submit questions to a general practitioner concerning coronavirus. The answers are in.
Before we get to the questions, we would like to remind you that the questions were answered by a German general practitioner and diabetician. The answers are for guidance and information purposes only; you should not base any health decisions on these answers.
If you have reason to believe that you are carrying the virus, you should contact Luxembourg's coronavirus helpline, and if you have questions regarding your specific situation due to an extant precondition or any other concerns regarding your health you should contact your GP.
1. If one is/was sick, but not sure if it is just a flu or Covid (and did not go to the hospital, as the symptoms were not strong enough) - how does one proceed?
Here is a chart where you see the different symptoms, if you are still unclear call the Coronavirus hotline:
2. How does one know if one is totally recovered and not contagious anymore? How many days should one remain in total isolation (from family)? Thanks!
Answer: Usually you have to be tested twice negative after a positive Covid test to stop the isolation.
3. I believe the stress of the epidemic will weigh heavy on people. What can people do to maintain their mental health during these unprecedented times?
Answer: It is difficult for everyone - reading books, talking on the phone, webcams, we are all not used to isolation. Perhaps you can start an E-learning programme or learn a new language. Eating healthy, doing some exercise are also things that can keep you distracted. Do the things you usually don't have time for, photo albums for example.
4. Are there any medicines that you can take?
Answer: Important is healthy food, a lot of vitamins. If you have high fever you can take Paracetamol, a nasal spray so the nose stays clear and dry air doesn't irritate your lungs. You can also inhale steam and take ACC 600 for example to dissolve mucus.
5. Is it still safe to eat out at restaurants?
Answer: I am pretty sure restaurants will close soon. In other countries restaurants are already closed. Eds. note: Restaurants have indeed closed since the Dr. answered this question, but are allowed to remain open for delivery.
6. Should ventilation systems in apartment buildings remain on or should they be turned off?
Answer: we actually don't know. 696 people got infected on the cruise ship Diamond Princess and as far as I know they are still not sure if the ventilation system had anything to do with the spreading of the virus.
7. At what stage of feeling ill should I contact the emergency services?
Answer: That depends on the general condition. For Pneumonia there is a CRP-65-score that you could check. Often the doctors use this. https://flexikon.doccheck.com/en/CRB-65-score. However, it is better to call your general practitioner before you are in such bad condition that you have to call the emergency service.
8. We heard that anti-inflammatory pills like Ibuprofen or Nurofen as well as aspirin might make things worse if you have coronavirus.
Answer: There were some fake new around about ibuprofen. Novalgin is also good against fever. Eds. note: there remains debate on this, and you will find different answers depending on where you look; it is a good idea to follow the Dr's recommendation and avoid e.g. ibuprofen for now.
9. If I have symptoms of CoVID, but not severe, can I go outside to, i.e. to buy food?
Answer: I wouldn't run around sick. If you had contact with Covid patients call your doctor please. Ed's note: call the covid helpline. There are many local initiatives wherein people will help bring you food and other necessities, walk your dog, etc., if you are in quarantine.
10. Should we wear masks on the bus or train at rush hour?
Answer: A simple mask won't really help. The FFP 2 mask could help but it gets hot under it and if it gets wet it will not work anymore. What really does help: Washing your hands.
11. In case I get the virus, would my family members be 100% infected or is there a chance that they could get away — despite being in the same household?
Answer: Not 100%. Children often don't get the virus. Not everyone will get it. In Germany one of the first Covid patients infected a lot of people at a carnival party but not his children.
12. If a person announced he was in contact with an infected person and he puts himself in isolation, you had meetings with him but didn’t touch or have any contact, should you put yourself in isolation too? From your family too, even if for your family might be already too late?
Answer: If you have symptoms you should isolate until the person who met the infected person has test results. Call the helpline if unsure.
13. Are there any problems for children at all? I can see that the death rate is low, but in reality, do young children suffer a cough or can they even die from this?
Answer: I saw one older Chinese statistic and there was only one single child under 6 that died from Covid 19. But we don't know if the child was healthy or sick before. We don't really have new data.
14. Is Germany testing all potential cases and why? How many people are tested across the country daily (approximately)?
Answer: I have heard about 12,000 tests daily but it could have changed by now.
In Germany we have testing centres near big laboratories. The general practitioner has to write a laboratory transfer paper, the patients calls the laboratory, drives there and gets tested. The general practitioner in the office doesn't need to do the testing. The laboratory analyses the test fast.
15. Generally, for the cases in Europe where governments close shops or “ban” movement, are people in house arrest? Can they run around the block etc?
Answer: As far as I understand in quarantine you are supposed to stay at you home and not run around.
16. Would the best course of action be to shut down everything and quarantine everyone, like China and Italy, in order to control the outbreak and avoid mass infection?
Answer: It seems so. South Korea shut down a lot and tested a lot and the infection rates doesn't rise a lot anymore.
17. What should pregnant women do in this chaotic situation?
Answer: There is a study with the previous SARS virus and pregnant women in the last tertial of pregnancy. The virus didn't harm the baby. Nevertheless, pregnant women should try to avoid infection diseases of all kind. (Eds. note, a case in the UK was announced)
18. Is it OK to donate blood or plasma at the moment? While one may feel fine, with no temperature or cough, one may have caught the virus, but not yet have symptoms? Ought one do a test for Covid-19 before donating?
Answer: the blood banks are facing problems because people don't come to donate. We need people that donate blood. There is not just Covid 19, there are a lot of other illnesses and if people stop donating blood we are going to have major problems. But only go donating if you feel fine.
19. According to T.Pueyo, “ 2.5% of infected require very intensive help, with items such as ventilators or ECMO (extra-corporeal oxygenation).” Do Luxembourg hospital(s) have ECMO equipment? https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca
Answer: I do not know about Luxembourg. As far as I know university hospitals, big hospitals, have ECMO but there are only very few ECMO machines in each hospital. Some years ago, even big hospitals only had about 2 ECMOs. I am not sure how many they have these days.
If a lot of people get severely sick at the same time the hospitals won't have enough ECMO for everyone.
20. How many people are expected to be infected?
Answer: Some specialists and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel say around 60-70% are going to be infected someday but the important thing is that not everybody is getting affected at the same time. It's important to slow down spread.
21. What would your advice be for students living in dormitories using shared facilities (eg kitchen, laundry room) who are wondering whether it’s OK to still use the same facilities?
Answer: Perhaps make kitchen and laundry timetables. Try to stay away from each other by approx 2 metres. Wash hands.
22. I took the Flu Vaccine last November is it effective against Covid19 or not?
Answer: No, the flu vaccination is only effective against 4 different flu tribes. The flu vaccination is only good for one fall/winter. Next fall there is a new vaccination against flu.
The flu virus is changing rapidly so you need a new vaccination every year. Nevertheless it wouldn't be good to have flu and Covid at the same time and the same goes for pneumococcal and flu at the same time. So it is good that you got a vaccination.
I wouldn't do a flu vaccination now that the flu season is nearly over and the vaccination needs two weeks to be able to protect.
23. Can healthy young people die of this?
Answer: The Chinese doctor Li Wenliang who first talked about the Covid 19 virus died from Covid at age of 34 years. A lot is possible but not probable. The virus usually harms old male with chronic diseases, especially lung problems.
24. If you have had the virus and then got better, can you catch it again if someone else in the house becomes infected?
Answer: It isn't known whether you can catch it again. We will probably know in a few weeks or months.
25. People below 65 are not at major risk as per the guidelines provided. However, at the same time, we have been told it can leave us (below 65 years) with lifelong difficulties. What are these difficulties?
Answer: We don't know yet if this is the case or not.
26. Is there a higher risk if you suffer from Asthma?
Answer. It depends. If your Asthma is treated well with medication and you are young you probably won't be in a high-risk group. But if you often have breathing problems and your lung capacity is bad you are at risk. Also, there is a disease similar to Asthma COPD (chronic pulmonary disease).
Often older people after smoking many years get it and sometimes these people need oxygen at home. These people are at very high risk.
27. Is it possible that this Virus could mutate and become more deadly?
Answer: It's a new virus that we don't know. Other diseases became less deadly over time for people.
About the GP:
Dr. Christine Berndt is a general practitioner and diabetologist who lives and works in Mainz, Germany.
She has experience in paediatrics and gained some insight into pandemics when she worked on an isolation ward during the swine flu H1N1 in 2009.