Slide3 Background

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The coronavirus pandemic triggered worldwide alarm. In Portugal, as in most countries, health authorities are monitoring the evolution of the new coronavirus outbreak, while research centres work together trying to find solutions to contain it.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses belong to a vast family of viruses that can infect animals and people. Usually, these infections attack the respiratory system, causing symptoms similar to the common flu or developing into more serious diseases, such as viral pneumonia.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the most recently discovered infectious disease caused by a virus of the corona family. This disease had not been detected before it spread in China's Hubei province in December 2019.

The World Health Organization (WHO) assigned the name COVID-19 to the disease caused by the virus "SARS-CoV-2", thus: "CO" for Corona, "VI" for virus, "D" for disease, and "19" for the year in which it was recognized and identified.

Given the similarity of the "SARS-CoV-2" nomenclature with the SARS disease, some people ask whether we are talking about the same disease. Despite the genetic similarity between the two viruses, and according to data from WHO, SARS was more deadly but much less infectious than COVID-19. There have been no outbreaks of SARS anywhere in the world since 2003.

How to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to available data and information shared by international health organizations, responses to COVID-19 can vary significantly. Some people may not show any symptoms at all, while others may become seriously ill. Main symptoms include fever, cough and breathing difficulties.

Most people infected with the virus have mild symptoms and recover. However, a few patients may experience more severe symptoms, like shortness of breath. These risks increase with age, as well as pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases or impaired immune systems.

How can you protect yourself?

WHO recommends hygiene measures and respiratory etiquette to reduce exposure and transmission of the disease, including:

  • cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough (with a tissue or with the inside of your elbow, never with your hands; always throw the tissue to a trash container);
  • wash your hands frequently (especially whenever you blow, sneeze, cough or after direct contact with sick people)
  • avoid close contact with people with a respiratory infection.

The use of a mask for individual protection is recommended for all healthcare professionals, people with symptoms of respiratory infection (coughing or sneezing) or suspected VOCID-19 infection, and those providing care for patients with suspected VOCID-19 infection. The same standard, defined by the Portuguese health directorate (DGS), also recommends the use of surgical masks by workers performing certain functions and more vulnerable people, such as the elderly, people with chronic diseases and immunosuppressed patients. In accordance with the Public Health Precautionary Principle, the use of community masks should also be considered for all those staying indoors with multiple people.

WHO, the Portuguese General Directorate of Health and thePortuguese National Health Service, have been sharing information in question/answer format to report the latest developments on this subject.

See the video released by WHO with the most relevant information about COVID-19 and the virus that causes this infectious disease.

World Health Organization video

Social networks are great communication tools, but they have also been spreading false or inaccurate information about COVID-19. Considering that there is still much to understand about the coronavirus and that the situation regarding this pandemic is changing at an accelerated pace, always check the reliability of your sources of information before sharing any content online.

Ciência Viva is following the evolution of the coronavirus and will update this page with relevant information and testimonies from researchers in Portugal, addressing the main questions and doubts of the public. This information is shared in partnership with the Portuguese Biologists Association.

COVID-19 Updates: answers from the researchers

Will we pay more attention to the environment once this challenging time is over?

With Ana Bastos, Ludwig-Maximilians Munich University

What does science tells us about how we can cope with isolation?

With Pedro Marques-Quinteiro, researcher at ISPA

Is this crisis an opportunity for the emergence of new areas and formats of business?

With Ricardo Paes Mamede, Economist and professor at ISCTE – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

Can the quarantine due to Covid-19 help planet Earth in the future?

With Ana Bastos, Ludwig-Maximilians Munich University

What role does fear have in the fight against Covid-19?

With Pedro Marques-Quinteiro, researcher at ISPA

Why does the new coronavirus affect children so little while the elderly suffer so much?

With researcher at IMM Pedro Simas

What is the effect of reducing pollution on the environment?

With Ana Bastos, Ludwig-Maximilians Munich University

What do we know today about COVID-19 and this new coronavirus?

With researcher from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Maria João Amorim

How do we fight a viral infection?

With researcher from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Maria João Amorim

How does our body respond to a viral infection?

With researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular and Professor at University of Lisbon Medical School, Luís Graça

What are viruses and where do they exist?

With the President of the Portuguese Biologists Association, José Matos

How do new viruses arise?

With the President of the Portuguese Biologists Association, José Matos

Can we be infected multiple times by the same virus?

With researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular and Professor at University of Lisbon Medical School, Luís Graça

Useful Articles

Vaccination strategies to combat novel corona virus SARS-CoV-2

Satish Chandra Pandey, Veni Pandea, Diksha Sati, Shobha Upreti, Mukesh Samant
Elsevier · 12-06-020

An overview of COVID-19

Yu SHI, Gang WANG, Xiao-peng CAI, Jing-wen DENG, Lin ZHENG, Hai-hong ZHU, Min ZHENG, Bo YANG, Zhi CHEN
Journal of Zhejiang University-SCIENCE B (Biomedicine & Biotechnology) · 08-05-2020

The race for coronavirus vaccines: a graphical guide

Eight ways in which scientists hope to provide immunity to SARS-CoV-2, Ewen Callaway
Nature · 28-04-2020

COVID Reference

Weekly updates with scientific data on the COVID-19 pandemic

OPSI COVID-19 - Innovative Response Tracker

OCDE - Organização para a Cooperação e Desenvolvimento Económico

High COVID-19 testing rate in Portugal

A sense of civic duty and mutual confidence between scientists and health authorities played a role in Portugal high testing rates. Marcia Triunfol reports.
The Lancet · 01-07-2020

Quarantine Routine: Chris Hadfield says self-isolation is a lot like flying a spaceship

_You’re part of a crew trying to accomplish an objective_
Toronto Life · 30-03-2020

Words from a concerned Immunologgist

Article by Maria de Sousa, Researcher Emeritus in Immunology area

in update...