Frequently asked questions about coronavirus and health

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

Symptoms include fever in combination with coughing, shortness of breath or pneumonia.

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.
  • 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?

  • Stay home as much as possible. You should work from home if you can. You should only go outside to shop for essentials (do this alone), to get some fresh air or to care for another person. Always stay 1.5 metres from other people and avoid gathering in groups.
  • If you have a cough and/or cold, stay at home. If you or someone in your household develops a fever or shortness of breath, all the members of the household must stay at home.
  • 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.

How do I know if someone in my vicinity has been infected with coronavirus?

This is published by your municipal health service (GGD).

How many people in the Netherlands have contracted coronavirus?

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

I live with someone who has a fever and shortness of breath. What should I do?

  • All the members of the household should stay home, even if they have no symptoms.
  • If it is necessary to do grocery shopping, this should be done by a member of the household who has no symptoms.
  • You may not have any visitors.
  • Only call your doctor if the symptoms worsen (a fever above 38 degrees Celsius and difficulty breathing) or if you require medical assistance.
  • All members of the household may leave the house again once no one has had any symptoms for 24 hours.
  • Make sure you practise good hygiene.

How far away does ‘keeping your distance’ actually mean?

Keeping your distance means staying at least 1.5 metres (two arms lengths) away from others, to protect yourself and others from a coronavirus infection. Coughing and sneezing spread tiny droplets through the air that contain the virus. People who breathe in these droplets can be infected. When you sneeze, these droplets rarely go further than 1.5 metres. If you stay 1.5 metres away from others, you are still allowed to do the shopping, go for a walk, ride your bicycle and pick up takeaway food.

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. Coronavirus spreads through people. 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.

Do I run a greater risk of coronavirus infection if I smoke?

Not much research has been done yet into smoking and coronavirus. Anyone can be infected. If you smoke, however, the illness may take a more severe form.

I have flown to the Netherlands from an area where there is a high rate of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). What should I do now?

You must self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the Netherlands. This is because you can become ill up to 14 days after having been infected. You may develop symptoms such as sneezing, a sore throat, a runny nose, a cough, an elevated temperature or a fever.  You must observe a number of specific rules (see the question below). You cannot leave your home or the place where you are staying and you cannot receive any visitors. By following these rules, you will prevent other people from becoming infected. This is especially important for people over 70 or who have health conditions that make them vulnerable. If you develop a fever and shortness of breath or require medical assistance while you are in quarantine, do not go to the doctor or the hospital yourself. Call the doctor first. If your symptoms are mild, there’s no need to call a doctor.

What rules do I need to follow when I’m in self-quarantine?

Stay inside for 14 days, don’t receive any visitors (except necessary visits by a doctor) and do not go to school or work. You can sit outside if you have a garden or balcony. Only members of your household may be at home with you.

You can only leave if you absolutely have to; for instance to do grocery shopping. Make sure you stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people.

You may not leave self-quarantine until 14 days have passed and you have had no symptoms for 24 hours.

And when you do go outside, follow the general advice that applies to everyone in the Netherlands:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  • 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.

See also