Since hundreds of people in Italy have suddenly been infected with the corona virus, many new questions about the virus outbreak have arrived on our NUjij response platform. presents the most frequently asked questions to virologist Ab Osterhaus.

Last week many people in northern Italy became infected with the COVID-19 virus . Can I still go on vacation?

"That is certainly possible at the moment. It is important that you keep an eye on travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and avoid areas with negative travel advice."

Why are the people returning from winter sports in northern Italy not being checked preventively?

"That's not wise, because the risk of infection is very low for all these people. The question is: where do you put the most energy in? I don't think it's wise to check everyone because it takes a lot of time and money and leads to unnecessary restlessness.You can invest better in properly informing people about the symptoms, the epicentres and the need to inform the doctor or GGD where appropriate, so that you can only develop the people who develop symptoms because they are infected with this virus. identify. "

Recently, hundreds of people in Europe have been infected with the corona virus. Is it more likely that the virus will spread in the Netherlands?

"The fact that we now also see spread independently of introduction from China means that the likelihood that people in the Netherlands will also become infected has increased. But I also think that as people look more closely at their possible symptoms and possible sources of infection and inform the doctor if in doubt, the chance of controlling the problem in the Netherlands will be increased. "



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Is the Netherlands well prepared for the arrival of the virus?

"I think so. We have a lot of knowledge about coronaviruses and epidemics and if someone is possibly infected, they will be placed in quarantine to prevent further spread of the infection. It will only become a problem if there is a lot of people become infected, many of whom are eligible for admission, which can lead to capacity problems. "

How long will it be until there is a vaccine?

"When developing a vaccine, candidate vaccines are first made. After they have been tested for safety and efficacy in animals, testing in humans can begin in three phases. All phases of developing a vaccine together take at least one to two years."

Have infected people been left to their own devices until then?

"No. Obviously, serious respiratory diseases may or may not be treated symptomatically, if necessary in the hospital. There may also be drugs against other virus infections that are effective in treating this virus infection. Against SARS, a drug was found to be effective that was used against chronic hepatitis C. At present, many existing antiviral drugs are being tested in the laboratory, including large-scale screening of people in China, including various drugs, and we now hope that drugs used against, for example, Ebola whether malaria is effective. "

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How does this disease differ from normal flu?

"The symptoms are very similar and cannot really be distinguished from each other. Unlike a 'normal flu', the vast majority of the population has built up little or no resistance to it. That means that the symptoms of the corona virus can be worse than with flu, although flu also leads to serious illnesses and mortality in non-vaccinated risk groups. "

What is the chance of the virus mutating?

"That chance is always present, but that is not in line with expectations in the short term. It makes a difference that people are unlikely to be infected with the virus a second time."

If you are old or sick, the chance of a bad outcome after infection is greater. What about this with pregnant women?

"So far we have no indications that pregnant women are at a higher risk. But if you get a respiratory tract infection in the distant stage of pregnancy, you will have a problem anyway. This is probably no different with the corona virus."



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There are cases where children and young people have become infected with the corona virus. Are children more or less vulnerable to the virus?

"Based on the data we now have, there is no reason to think that children are more vulnerable. It seems rather that the disease is less common in children."

Is the virus transferable via animals? For example, can I infect my dog?

"That is not yet known. SARS was known to infect cats with that virus, but it has never been shown that cats played a role in the spread to humans. For the time being, we assume that pets are involved in the spread little or no role at all from the new coronavirus. "

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