Coronavirus: FAQ

Coronavirus: FAQ
How is COVID-19 transmitted? What are possible complications? Are masks effective and what are the consequences of quarantine non-compliance? We answer urgent questions about the novel coronavirus infection.

What is a coronavirus and how does it spread?      

The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus. It is transmitted mainly by airborne droplets sprayed from patient's airways when coughing or sneezing, as well as by droplets of saliva or nasal secretions. Also, it can spread when you touch any contaminated surface like a door handle. In this case, you get infected when you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes with contaminated hands.

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus infection?

Basic coronavirus symptoms are:

— fever;

— sneezing;

— cough;

— difficulty breathing.

In the vast majority of cases, these symptoms are typical of the common cold, not coronavirus.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

The transmission ways are:

— airborne (virus is released when coughing, sneezing, or talking);

— direct contact (when sharing everyday items).

How to prevent coronavirus?

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is observing a good personal hygiene and avoiding public and crowded places.

Keep your hands clean, wash them frequently with soap and water, or use a disinfectant.

Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands (usually we do this unconsciously 15 times an hour on average).

At work, frequently clean the surfaces and devices you touch (computer keyboard, office equipment panels, smartphone screen, remotes, door handles and handrails).

Carry disposable tissues wherever you go and always cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Do not eat food (nuts, crisps, cookies, and other snacks) from shared packages or dishes if other people have dipped their fingers into it.

Explain to your children how germs spread and why a proper hand and face hygiene is important. Tell your children about the prevention of coronavirus. Air rooms on a regular basis. If you develop symptoms similar to those caused by coronavirus, stay home and call a doctor.

Are masks effective against infectious diseases?  

Using a disposable medical mask reduces the risk of viral infections transmitted by airborne droplets (when coughing or sneezing). All patients with common cold must wear a mask and replace it several times a day.

How long does it take for coronavirus symptoms to appear?

Symptoms may appear within 14 days after a contact with an infected person.

What are possible complications caused by coronavirus?

The new coronavirus infection refers to acute respiratory viral infections (the common cold), so its complications may be the same as those of other respiratory diseases, including pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, and others.

Information for citizens arriving from high-risk countries     

Where can I get a coronavirus vaccine?

To date, there is still no vaccine developed to prevent the new coronavirus. Russian and foreign scientists are currently on it.

Where can I get tested for coronavirus?   

No independent testing for coronavirus is provided! You can get tested if you:

— have arrived from high-risk countries (China, Korea, Iran) within the last 14 days;

— develop common cold symptoms after you arrived from countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases;*

— have had contact with a coronavirus patient. A sample for testing is taken by a medical officer. In all other cases, no test is taken. Private labs do not provide tests for the new coronavirus infection.

*The list of countries is published on Rospotrebnadzor's website.

Is the test for coronavirus taken optionally or when medically necessary?   

The test for coronavirus must be taken when medically required by a doctor of a healthcare facility such as a polyclinic, hospital or EMS. You are subject to examination if you:

— have arrived from high-risk countries (China, Korea, Iran) within the last 14 days;

— develop common cold symptoms after you arrived from countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases;*

— have had contact with a coronavirus patient.

A sample for testing is taken by a medical officer. In all other cases, no test is taken.

*The list of countries is published on Rospotrebnadzor's website.

What are countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases? 

Find the list of countries with at least one confirmed COVID-19 case on the websites of WHO and Rospotrebnadzor of the Russian Federation. The decree of Moscow Mayor of 5 March 2020 listed the highest-risk countries. These include China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, and Spain. Citizens arriving from these countries must observe the following procedure: call the Department of Healthcare hotline +7 (495) 870-45-09, report their arrival, leave their contact details and self-isolate, that is, they must not leave their homes. Please inform the hotline operator if you need a sick leave to provide to your employer or educational institution.

What should I do if I came from abroad?

If you arrive from any country with confirmed COVID-19 cases,* you must call the Department of Healthcare hotline by number +7 (495) 870-45-09, report your arrival and provide your contact details. If you visited China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Germany, or France in the past two weeks, you are to be quarantined at your place for 14 days from the date of returning to Russia. To get a sick leave to provide to your employer or educational institution, please call the Department of Healthcare hotline by number +7 (495) 870-45-09. Your sick leave will be delivered by a courier right to your place.

*The list of countries is published on Rospotrebnadzor's website.

Photo: Press Service of Moscow Mayor and the Moscow Government. Evgeny Samarin

Isolation of patients: conditions, medical care

Where do quarantined patients who have come from countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases but do not have symptoms of the common cold reside?

According to Decree of Moscow Mayor No.12 dated 5 March 2020, all citizens arriving from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany must self-isolate upon arrival in Moscow, that is, they must not leave their homes, go to work, study, or invite guests to their place. To get a sick leave to your employer or educational institution, you must contact the hotline of the Department of Healthcare by calling +7 (495) 870-45-09. Your sick leave will be delivered by a courier right to your place.

How long is the quarantine?  

The quarantine lasts 14 days from the moment of crossing the border of China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, or from the date of contacting a coronavirus patient.

What is prohibited during quarantine?   

You must not leave your home, go to school or work. If you need a sick leave, call the Department of Healthcare hotline by +7 (495) 870-45-09. Your sick leave will be delivered by a courier right to your place. The risk of infecting family members reduces provided you follow a good hygiene, such as using a mask, individual kitchenware, washing your hands frequently and using skin sanitizers, airing the room regularly.

How long will the daily doctor’s visits last?       

The number of doctor visits is determined on a case-by-case basis throughout the quarantine period (14 days).

If I am isolated, should my family members who have not visited dangerous countries also stay at home?

No, they should not, unless you have a coronavirus infection. But you should better avoid contacts with your relatives during the quarantine period. The risk of infecting family members reduces provided you follow a good hygiene, such as using a mask, individual kitchenware, washing your hands frequently and using skin sanitizers, airing the room regularly.

How much does it cost to stay at a hospital? 

Medical care for all patients with suspected new coronavirus infection is provided free of charge.

How am I diagnosed and how long does it take? Is it true that it has three stages? What are they?

One test is not enough for a diagnosis. If a person does not have any common cold symptoms, he or she is tested twice. If there are any common cold symptoms, there will be at least three tests.  

Photo: Press Service of Moscow Mayor and the Moscow Government. Evgeny Samarin

What tests are taken to diagnose COVID-19?      

COVID-19 is diagnosed using molecular genetic methods — PCR (polymerase chain reaction). This includes nose and oropharynx smears, with other tests as prescribed by a doctor.

How are people treated while they are waiting for their test results? What medications do they take?      

Treatment is prescribed by a doctor depending on the symptoms in accordance with Russian and international recommendations. Self-medication is prohibited.

When are patients taken to a hospital with suspected COVID-19?   

Patients are taken to a hospital in accordance with the Resolution of the Chief Medical Officer of the Russian Federation (No.5 'On Additional Steps to Reduce the Risks of Importation and Spread of a New Coronavirus Infection (2019-nCoV)' dd. 02.03.2020).

Who must be taken to a hospital with a patient?    

The decision on whom to take to a hospital is made by the examining doctor, depending on the severity of the condition and the proximity of contacts with the patient.

How are rooms disinfected at hospitals with suspected coronavirus patients?

All areas of the hospital are disinfected at least twice a day with disinfectants and physical methods of disinfecting air and surfaces (germicidal lamps and air disinfectors).

Why are doctors allowed to leave the hospital although they have been in contact with patients?  

Medical staff use personal protective equipment (masks, respirators, gloves and medical caps). At the end of each shift, they dispose of this equipment and undergo a full sanitary treatment (shower with detergents and disinfectants).

Which hospitals will admit patients with suspected COVID-19?   

People with common cold symptoms who have arrived from high-risk countries are currently sent to Infectious Diseases Clinical Hospitals No.1 and No.2, and to the new healthcare complex in Kommunarka district.

Are relatives allowed to visit a patient isolated in a hospital?      

When a patient is isolated, visits are prohibited. These steps are aimed at preventing the spread of the disease. However, all hospital patients may use a mobile phone to contact their relatives at any time.

Can I use my phone while in isolation?      

All hospital patients may use a mobile phone to contact their relatives at any time.

Can relatives bring food and other necessities to the hospital?

Relatives can bring food and personal things to patients, However, there are a number of restrictions you can check by calling the hospital's inquiry office.

How do hospital patients get their meals?

For patients with suspected new coronavirus infection, meals are provided in accordance with medical regulations.

What precautions should be taken after discharge from the hospital?   

After discharge, you must take the same precautions to prevent viral infections as healthy people: avoid mass gatherings of people, wash your hands, ventilate rooms, etc.

Can I get a sick leave for the period of self-isolation?     

All citizens arriving from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, and Spain must stay home for a 14-day quarantine and report their contacts to the Department of Healthcare hotline by calling +7 (495) 870-45-09. The hotline operators will also tell you how to get a sick leave. They will register your request, and a courier will deliver your sick leave right to your place within two days. Sick leave will be issued to healthy people regardless of their general health condition. If a few family members arrived from high-risk countries, their sick leave will be registered upon one request.

The sick leave procedure for self-isolated people is temporary and will be valid until 1 April 2020. If you feel unwell during the self-isolation, you must call a doctor or an ambulance as soon as possible, informing them that you have recently arrived from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, or Spain. You MUST NOT visit a healthcare facility!

What do I do if I developed a fever after I arrived from a high-risk country?

If you have common cold symptoms (fever, cough, etc.), call a doctor or an ambulance as soon as possible!

Photo: Press Service of Moscow Mayor and the Moscow Government. Evgeny Samarin

What efforts have been made in Moscow?

Why is the border still open to enter and exit Russia?   

To date, the entry of foreign citizens with travel, work and study visas from high-risk countries is temporarily restricted. These countries include:

— People's Republic of China (Russian Government Order No. 338-Р of 18.02.2020) starting 20.02.2020;

— Islamic Republic of Iran (Russian Government Order No. 447-Р of 28.02.2020) starting 28.02.2020;

— Republic of Korea (Russian Government Order No. 448-Р of 01.03.2020) starting 01.03.2020.

How to cross the Russian border now in view of coronavirus?     

At airports, medical monitoring of passengers arriving from countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases is more thorough now. All citizens arriving from China, Iran and South Korea are issued isolation orders and tested for coronavirus infection, with their contact details recorded and a photo taken.

All passengers on international flights at all airports have their body temperature taken.

There are people in close proximity who have returned from China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. What measures should be applied to them?

People returning from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, and Spain must self-isolate at home for 14 days after leaving the country. Isolation compliance is monitored using special technical means, including CCTV monitoring.

Moscow hospitals do not have enough beds to admit patients with suspected coronavirus. Is it true?  

To date, there are enough beds for all patients with suspected coronavirus in Infectious Diseases Clinical Hospital No.1 and Infectious Diseases Clinical Hospital No.2, and in the new hospital in Kommunarka. Extra beds will be provided, if needed.

Physicians from Moscow hospitals are on duty now at the airports to test passengers for coronavirus, so some clinics have closed their offices. Is it true? 

Mobile teams including physicians from various medical facilities have been working at all airports in Moscow and Moscow region. They monitor the condition of passengers returning from high-risk countries.

Appointing physicians to work at airports does not affect the quality of medical care in city hospitals. The hospitals’ departments work as usual, and there is no intention to close them. Medical care is provided in full, and patients are discharged under the standard procedure for medical reasons when hospital stay is not required.

True information about the actual spread of coronavirus is not revealed.   

All the updates about COVID-19 in Moscow are immediately published on the websites of the Moscow Department of Healthcare and Rospotrebnadzor, and on mos.ru.

Patients with suspected coronavirus are placed in unfinished hospital in Kommunarka district. Is it true?

The hospital complex of the first construction phase is fully completed and has all the necessary facilities and a complete team of specialists. Permission to put the complex into operation was received on 24 December 2019.

Is EMS ready for the COVID-19 situation?   

Yes, it is. According to international experts, Moscow EMS is one of the most effective in the world. Today, EMS has a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment, including respirators, disposable gloves and glasses, various overalls and other protective equipment.

After transportation of each patient, regardless of whether they have signs of an infectious disease or not, the car interior and air are disinfected using bactericidal irradiators. After transporting patients to infectious hospitals, the ambulance gets fully sanitised.

Ambulance station has specialised infectious disease teams including highly qualified physicians that will ensure proper work in the event of any infection outburst. There are also special bioboxes to transport patients with highly infectious diseases.

What preventive measures have been introduced in schools?       

Daily taking children's temperature, cleaning and ventilation of premises have been introduced in schools and kindergartens. Outdoor and public events are cancelled. If a child has a fever, it is sent home accompanied by its parents or legal representatives. Until the arrival of parents, the child is isolated.

Children who have returned from countries with coronavirus infection outbreaks will not be allowed to attend school for 14 days. Instead, school students will get distance education. Is it true?

Yes, it is. Starting 10 March, children arriving from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, and Spain will switch to distance learning (according to Order of the Department of Education and Science of the City of Moscow No.89 'On the Introduction of a High-Alert Mode' dated 6 March 2020). This applies to all Moscow schoolchildren. They will be allowed to attend regular classes after 14 days from the date of their return to Russia.

Please remember that, under the decree of Moscow Mayor of 5 March 2020, you must report your return to Russia from high-risk countries to the Moscow hotline by calling +7 (495) 870-45-09. You must also share this information with your classroom teachers and educators.

I came from Italy and I feel good. What happens if I choose not to self-isolate?     

By Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No.66 of 31.01.2020, coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV) is included in the list of diseases that pose a danger to other people.

Violation of the law entails liability, including criminal liability and imprisonment for up to 5 years. Compliance is CCTV monitored. For non-compliance, you will be placed in the observation centre. Violation of disease control and prevention laws by non-compliance with the current sanitary rules and hygiene standards, failure to take sanitary and anti-epidemic measures, entails a liability (Article 236 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation):

— Part 1 — violation of sanitary and epidemiological rules entailing massive disease or poisoning of people through negligence, shall be punished by a fine of up to RUB 80,000 or the amount of the salary or other income of a convicted person for a period of up to six months, or by deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities for a term of up to three years, or by compulsory works for a term of up to 360 hours, or corrective labour for a term of up to one year, or restriction of liberty for a term of up to one year;

— Part 2 — the same act that caused death of a person through negligence is punishable by compulsory works for a period of up to 480 hours, or corrective labour for a period of six months to two years, or forced labour for a period of up to five years, or imprisonment for the same period.

Who is to compensate for the difference between sick pay and real wages if I was self-isolated but turned to be healthy?       

Current law does not provide for any compensation.

I live alone. Am I allowed to take out garbage, accept parcels from a courier, go to a pharmacy and buy food while in self-isolation?      

If you live alone, it is recommended to use a delivery service or let your friends and acquaintances help you. When it is absolutely necessary (to take out garbage, walk a dog), you are allowed to go outside at a time when there are less people outside. Be sure to wear a mask. Please note that isolation compliance is monitored, including by CCTV system.

Who controls employers in respect of mandatory taking of temperature and enforcing Mayor's decree? What is the penalty for non-compliance?   

Under the Code of Administrative Offences of the City of Moscow, violation of the requirements entails administrative responsibility and a fine imposed on officials of organisations. Under the Article 3.18 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the City of Moscow, violation of the requirements established by laws and regulations of the city of Moscow regarding protection of the population and territories of the city from emergency situations entails the imposition of an administrative fine on officials in the amount of RUB 4,000 to 5,000. Reports on the commission of such an offence are drawn up by the Department of Civil Defence and Emergency Situations of the City of Moscow, with the Administrative Commission on Administrative Offences under the Government of Moscow considering cases.

Does the decree apply to foreign citizens?   

The decree adopted on 5 March applies both to citizens of the Russian Federation and foreign citizens arriving in Moscow from regions with confirmed COVID-19 cases. If they arrive in Moscow for more than 14 days, they will have to spend this time in isolation and then return to normal life in the city. If they stay for less than 14 days, they will still spend the entire period in isolation at their place of stay. After this period is over, even if it is less than 14 days, they are to return to their country.