Skip to the content

What you should know


What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Most strains of coronavirus typically cause only mild symptoms such as common colds. Some rarer strains, however, cause more serious illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 

The current outbreak of coronavirus, coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, is caused by a novel strain known as SARS-CoV-2. The first cases of COVID-19 were identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.


How does it spread?

  1. Person-to-person
    Person-to-person contact is thought to be the main way the virus spreads, in particular:
    • Between people who are near each other (within around 6 feet)
    • Via droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing
    • These droplets can enter the mouths or noses of people nearby and possibly be inhaled into the lungs
  2. Contact with infected surfaces or objects
    It is also possible that someone can be infected with COVID-19 by touching a surface or object with the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.  


In confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild cold- or flu-like symptoms to more severe illness and, in some cases, death.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell

Other symptoms that are less common include fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Based on data from previous coronaviruses, experts believe the time between exposure and the appearance of symptoms ranges from 1–14 days, and most commonly around five days.

If you detect or have the above symptoms, please call the Ministry of Health’s hotline numbers.


How to protect yourself?

The best prevention is, therefore, to avoid being exposed.

The guidelines below offer you and your family the best protection against the spread of COVID-19:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you are ill, stay at home.
  • If you are coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with a tissue and then throw the tissue away.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with a household disinfectant.
  • Wear a mask: To use a mask properly, your mouth and nose should be covered, with little to no open space around that area. While removing the mask, do not touch the front part of the mask, and then dispose of the mask and wash your hands. Whenever the mask is wet or has been exposed to moisture, replace it with a dry and clean mask. Change your mask often.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.


Frequently asked questions

Q: Can someone who has had COVID-19 spread the illness to others?

A: The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading mainly from person-to-person. Someone who is actively ill with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others.


Q: Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?

A: No. Since COVID-19 is caused by a virus, antibiotics, which work only against bacterial infections, are not effective either to prevent or treat COVID-19.


Q: Should I wear a mask to protect myself?

A: People with no respiratory symptoms, such as cough, do not need to wear a medical mask. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of masks only for people who have symptoms of COVID-19, and for those caring for them. The use of masks is essential for health workers and carers.


Q: How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?

A: The ‘incubation period’ is the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1–14 days, and typically around five days. These estimates will be revised as more data become available.


Q: Am I at risk for COVID-19 in the Kurdistan Region?

A: This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment may change daily. The latest updates will be provided by the Ministry of Health and related Kurdistan Regional Government entities.


Q: Is there anything I should not do?

A: The following measures are not effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:

  • Smoking
  • Taking traditional herbal remedies 
  • Wearing multiple masks 
  • Taking self-medication such as antibiotics