Safe Management Measures Advisory
Disease name: COVID-19
Virus name: SARS-CoV-2
Other Names: Coronavirus, Wuhan virus
Overview of the COVID-19 Disease
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a Coronavirus. This is a second-generation Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (“SARS” for short) virus: hence the virus is named SARS-CoV-2
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When did COVID-19 start? How did it progress? What is the current status of this pandemic?
• A pneumonia of unknown cause, first detected in Wuhan, China, was reported to the WHO
on 31 December 2019. On 11 February 2020, WHO named this new infectious
disease COVID-19 (a short form for Corona Virus Disease 2019)
• As the epidemic escalated in certain countries, the outbreak was declared a Public Health
Emergency by the WHO on 30 January 2020
• Further spread of the disease around the world made it necessary for WHO to call it a
Pandemic on 11 March 2020.
• Singapore, which uses the DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) Code
to keep its residents updated on the seriousness of COVID-19, raised the alert from
DORSCON Yellow to DORSCON Orange on 7 February 2020 (If you want to know more about
DORSCON Code, please see Appendix: DORSCON Code).
2. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
a) The most common symptoms are Dry cough, Fever and Tiredness
b) Some patients may have Aches & pain, Nose congestion, Runny nose, Sore throat and/or
c) 1 in 6 patients become seriously ill with Breathing difficulties
d) Recently, it has been noted that some patients complain of Loss of smell and Loss of taste.
e) More importantly, some infected people have no symptoms at all.
3. Who is susceptible to COVID-19?
• Everybody is susceptible to the infection but different people react to the infection
a. Children are less susceptible. When infected, they usually show mild symptoms. Also,
most infected children recover uneventfully.
b. Young healthy adults are susceptible, but like in children, most will recover uneventfully.
# Note though, that a small group of “super-healthy” “super-strong” young adults, when
infected, may react by over-secreting a group of proteins called CYTOKINES. These are
molecular messengers. This “Cytokine Storm” could have adverse effects on these young
guys, ultimately leading to their death.
c. Elderly people with pre-existing ailments like Cancer, Heart, Lung, Liver or Kidney
disease, Diabetes, Hypertension, Etc, are especially vulnerable. In this group, death is
4. How is COVID-19 transmitted?
• You may catch this infection from an infected person who may or may not have symptoms
• The disease spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or
sneezes. These droplets can be breathed into the lungs of people who are nearby (hence it is
important to stay a safe distance from people around you as you do not know if they are
infected or not. You also don’t know if they will cough or sneeze)
• Additionally, COVID-19 can be transmitted to people who touch a surface or object on which
the respiratory droplets have landed and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes (Hence
the importance of frequent hand washing and decontamination of surfaces)
5. What is the Incubation period of COVID-19?
• The term “Incubation period” refers to the number of days from when a person is exposed
to the virus to the day when he develops symptoms
• It is currently estimated that the incubation period is between 1-14 days, but mostly
between 3-7 days
• Some people who are infected by the virus may have no symptoms (asymptomatic). These
asymptomatic people could still transmit the infection to their close contacts without their
knowing it. (Hence the importance of wearing a mask when you are in a crowded
Author: Dr. Saw Huat Seong
Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Credentials: MBBS (Malaya, Malaysia), FRACS (Gen Surg), FAMS (Thoracic Surg), FACC, FRCST (Hon)
Reference/ Sources: WHO, CDC Singapore, MOH Singapore, ICDC, Johns Hopkins, Wikipedia, and independent experts.
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