- You can get coronavirus by breathing in small droplets that contain the virus.
- Or by getting droplets on your hands and then touching your face.
- Advice to avoid getting the virus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Do not shake hands with others.
- Keep a distance of 1.5 metres from others.
- Avoid busy places.
What is the coronavirus?
The coronavirus can cause cold symptoms (blocked or runny nose, sneezing). Some people get more serious symptoms, like pneumonia (lung infection).
The virus is contagious. The virus can spread from one person to another through small droplets in the air.
A coronavirus test can show whether you have coronavirus.
How can I get the coronavirus?
You can get the virus from someone else.
- When someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes, small droplets of virus come into the air. You can breathe in these droplets.
- You can also get the droplets on your hands. For example, when you shake hands with someone. Or if someone sneezes near you.
If you then touch your eyes, mouth or nose with your hands, the virus can get into your body.
The more ill someone is, the more virus gets into the air. So this person spreads a lot of virus.
Someone who is not so ill spreads less virus.
People without symptoms can also spread the virus: 1 to 3 days before they develop symptoms themselves.
The virus can also survive outside the body. We don’t know how long exactly, but probably only for a short time. The chance of getting the virus by touching objects or surfaces is small.
How can I avoid getting coronavirus?
Tips to avoid getting or spreading a virus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Dry them with a paper towel. Throw the used paper towel away in the rubbish bin immediately.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser only if soap and water are not available. For example, after blowing your nose.
- Cough and sneeze into the inside of your elbow.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Use paper tissues to blow your nose. Throw the tissues away immediately afterwards.
- Keep a distance of 1.5 metres from others. Do not touch others. Do not shake hands with others.
- Avoid busy places.
- Work from home if you can.
- Open all vents above your windows. Or, if you do not have these vents: make sure to leave open a small upper window. This allows fresh air in and stale air out. Also open a door or window for 30 minutes at least once a day. Do this especially when you are inside with other people. This allows a lot of fresh air in and stale air out quickly.
- Important: If you have symptoms, do not visit older people, people with a weakened immune system or people with a chronic illness (in Dutch).
- You can safely visit your doctor or GP. Your doctor or GP will take measures to prevent infection.
- There is no evidence that taking extra vitamins helps prevent people from getting coronavirus.
- It is unknown whether vitamin D helps against corona. Therefore, doctors cannot recommend or advise against vitamin D. However, many people do need extra vitamin D.
Check here (in Dutch) to find out if this applies to you.
Since the 1st of June 2020, anyone travelling on public transport must wear a non-medical mask. On public transport, it is not possible to maintain a safe distance from others.
Since the 1st of December 2020, anyone must wear a non-medical mask in all public buildings. These include: shops, petrol stations, museums, restaurants and theatres. For more information, please check the government's website.
It is uncertain how much protection masks provide against the spread of the virus. Therefore it is important that you continue to follow all of the other advice, such as washing hands.
See the RIVM website (in Dutch) to find out how to make and use a mask.
Masks are important for people who work with people who could have coronavirus. These are medical masks.
Are you planning to travel? For travel advice, check the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
What can I do if I am older or have a chronic illness?
You have a greater risk of becoming very ill from coronavirus in the following situations: The more points apply to you, the greater your risk:
- You are over 70 years old.
- You have a weakened immune system, for example due to a serious illness or medication.
- You have diabetes and have had high blood sugar for a long time, or organ damage from diabetes.
- You already have a serious heart or lung condition for which you see a specialist.
- You have a kidney disease that requires dialysis.
- You have HIV. (In the case of HIV it depends on the severity of your illness. Your doctor can tell you more about this.)
- You are very overweight: your BMI (Body Mass Index) (in Dutch) is higher than 40. Even being a little overweight can increase your risk.
Do you have a greater risk? Then follow the general advice as carefully as possible. Also follow this additional advice:
- Are you going to visit someone or are you having visitors? Then call each other shortly beforehand. Postpone the visit if 1 or more of the following conditions apply:
- Your visitor has symptoms (cold, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, elevated temperature, fever).
- Your visitor has been around someone with coronavirus less than 14 days ago.
- Your visitor has come back from a code orange or code red area less than 14 days ago.
- Sit outside with visitors if possible. Outside is better than inside. Make sure you keep a distance of 1.5 metres between each other.
- You can go outside. Make sure you can keep a distance of 1.5 metres from others. This is the advice:
- Use public transport as little as possible.
- Visit busy places as little as possible. For example, supermarkets, do-it-yourself (DIY) stores or busy shopping streets. Ask someone else to do your food shopping for you. Or have your shopping delivered to your home.
You can safely visit your doctor or GP if necessary. Your doctor or GP will take measures to prevent infection.
If you want, you can talk to your GP about your wishes in case you get coronavirus (or another illness) (in Dutch).
Are you taking medication that weakens your immune system? Never stop taking this medication without discussing this with your doctor first.
Pregnancy and coronavirus
If you're pregnant, there is no need to be more concerned about coronavirus. You will not get coronavirus more easily than others. You also do not have a greater risk of becoming more ill from coronavirus if you are pregnant.
As far as we know now, coronavirus does not harm babies in the womb.
Like everyone else, try to avoid getting coronavirus by following the advice:
For more information, see I am pregnant and worried about getting coronavirus (in Dutch).
How bad is it if I get coronavirus?
Most people have few symptoms. They also recover again in a few days.
Sometimes the virus can cause a severe lung infection (pneumonia). In this case, it takes longer to recover: a few weeks or more (in Dutch). People who have pneumonia are often very ill. They often have a fever and have difficulty breathing (for example while walking).
When should I call my GP?
Do you have one or more of the following symptoms: cold, sore throat, cough, temperature above 37.5 degrees, difficulty breathing, loss of taste and/or smell?
Then you should get tested for corona.
- Immediately call the GP or out-of-hours GP service if 1 or more of the following things apply to you:
- you feel more and more ill over a few days
- your breathing becomes faster and faster or more difficult (for example while walking)
- you get more and more confused
- you have a fever for more than 3 days (38 degrees Celsius or higher)
- you are over 70 years old, you have a chronic illness or a weakened immune system AND you have a fever
- Do NOT go to your GP. The GP or assistant will ask you questions on the phone.
If necessary, the GP will examine you The GP will make sure this can be done safely, at the practice or at your home. The GP will wear glasses, a mask, gloves and a protective coat or apron.
More information about coronavirus
- If you have questions: call 0800-1351. This is the telephone number of the national public health information service.
(when calling from abroad: +312 0205 1351).
- Having the whole family at home all the time can lead to tension. See nji.nl for tips on how to keep a good atmosphere at home together (in Dutch). Or see this poster (in Dutch) for tips from the Government.
- Coronavirus causes worry and uncertainty, about yourself and others. For help and advice, see the ‘Mental Health Information and Referral Centre for COVID-19’ (Informatie- en Verwijscentrum mentale gezondheid COVID-19) (in Dutch).
- If you have to stay home and do not have much contact with others, you can call the Red Cross helpline: 070-4455 888.
- More information can be found on the website of the Government of the Netherlands. For example, about measures (in Dutch), travel, public transport, work, education and childcare.
- Answers to questions about coronavirus can be found on the website of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Also for videos about the new coronavirus (in Dutch).
- For travel advice, see the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- For questions about coronavirus in traffic, aviation or public transport, see the website of the Ministry (in Dutch).
- Read more about coronavirus and quitting smoking at ikstopnu.nl (in Dutch).
- If you have lung problems after having coronavirus, you can find information and peer support at coronalongplein.nl (in Dutch).
The following information was used to write this text:
- the coronavirus guidelines of the RIVM
- the information on coronavirus from the Dutch College of General Practitioners (in Dutch)
- the guidelines on COVID-19 coagulopathy (in Dutch)