Frequently asked questions about coronavirus and health

What are the symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

The main symptoms that often occur with COVID-19 are:

  • Cold-like symptoms (such as a cold, a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat)
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath or pneumonia
  • A temperature up to 38 degrees or a fever above 38 degrees
  • A sudden loss of smell or taste (without a blocked nose)

I think I have coronavirus. What should I do?

  • For everyone in the Netherlands: stay at home if you have mild cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat, a cough or a fever above 38 degrees Celsius.
  • If you have coronavirus-like symptoms, you can get tested to see if you are infected with coronavirus.
  • Avoid social contacts. This means, for instance, that you may not have any visitors or visit anyone else, and you may not do any shopping. Only call your doctor if the symptoms worsen (a fever above 38 degrees Celsius and difficulty breathing) and you require medical assistance.
  • If you feel better and have not had any symptoms for 24 hours, you have recovered. You can no longer infect others.

What can I do to prevent coronavirus from spreading?

  • Wash your hands regularly with water and soap.
  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
  • Use paper tissues and discard them after use.
  • Don’t shake hands with others.
  • Stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people.
  • Work from home as much as possible.
  • Stay at home if you have cold-like symptoms.
  • Avoid busy places. 

I’ve had COVID-19. Do I still need to follow the basic rules?

Yes, even if you’ve already had COVID-19 you should follow the basic rules. It is not yet known whether people can get COVID-19 more than once.

How many people in the Netherlands have contracted coronavirus?

See the counter with the number of infections in the Netherlands on the RIVM website.

Can I pick up new coronavirus by touching a contaminated surface or object like a door handle, ATM, handrail or money?

A virus always needs a person or animal to ‘stay alive’ and multiply. Outside the body the virus only stays active for a short while, depending on the type of surface, the temperature and humidity level. Viruses usually survive for longer periods on hard, smooth materials like plastics, metal and glass than on porous materials like paper and cardboard.

The chance of getting coronavirus from touching a surface or object is very small. Make sure you take measures that you would normally take to protect yourself against viruses that cause flu and common colds, like washing your hands regularly. You can clean a surface that may be infected with a normal detergent.

How can I build up my resistance to the effects of COVID-19?

A healthy lifestyle keeps your immune system strong. A strong immune system helps protect people from bacteria and viruses that can make them sick, such as coronavirus. People with a strong immune system get sick less often. And, if they do get sick, they usually recover more quickly. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated. Small changes can make a difference. Keep yourself healthy:

  • Try to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods, including lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Don’t drink more than one alcoholic drink a day (and don’t drink at all if you are under 18).
  • Stop smoking. See for tips and advice to stop smoking (only in Dutch).

See also