Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In order to keep everyone informed, the FEI has created this Frequently Asked Questions page on how the Coronavirus Covid-19 is affecting our community. The information will be regularly updated as the situation evolves; (if you are viewing this on your mobile, please adjust it to landscape mode to have a better view of the contents).

Cancellation of FEI Events

As an Organiser, am I obliged to cancel my event?

While the FEI does not itself organise any FEI Events, in light of the escalating numbers of persons affected by the virus and the restrictions imposed by national governments, the FEI strongly recommends that Organisers in countries affected by Covid-19 cancel all Events until a reassessment of the situation can be made.  

Please see NF News dated 13 March 2020.

Are Athletes reimbursed if an Event is cancelled?
For Athlete reimbursement of entry fees for cancelled events please contact the Organising Committee of the event concerned. 
What is the status of Events on the FEI Calendar? Will more Events be postponed or cancelled? 

Any decision on the cancellation of international Events remains with the Organising Committee and the National Federation in accordance with the national law applicable in each country. However, the FEI strongly recommends that Organisers in countries that are affected by Covid-19 cancel all Events until a reassessment of the situation can be made. 

A list of cancelled events can be found here.

Is it possible for an Organiser who is postponing an Event to “reserve” a future date?

Currently, our Regulations do not allow dates to be reserved. We are not going to accept any date changes for the moment as we need to receive all the requests first. The FEI does not know how many Events will be impacted nor how long the current situation will last. We understand how extremely difficult the situation is for Organisers, but clearly no single Organiser can be favoured to the detriment of others.

The FEI is creating a series of discipline-specific task forces to evaluate the impact on the FEI Calendar of the Covid-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Each working group will be chaired by the FEI Secretary General, who has overall responsibility for the FEI Calendar, and will involve all the relevant stakeholders, including the President of the International Equestrian Organisers Association. Please refer to the press release here.

Financial Measures

What has been the financial impact of Covid-19 on the FEI?

Our income has already been seriously affected by the pandemic, but thanks to processes put in place after a full risk management assessment three years ago, the financial position of the FEI remains solid. However, we have taken a number of important measures to reduce outgoings and minimise the major impact of the outbreak on our community, sport and the FEI.

What steps is the FEI taking to mitigate this loss of income?

In order to help stabilise the financial viability of the organisation and to safeguard jobs in the long-term, the FEI has put 60% of its staff on temporary partial unemployment as of 15 April.

Having this option of temporary partial unemployment offered by the Swiss government, has meant we have been able to avoid having to resort to permanent lay-offs and we can maintain our valued and incredibly skilled workforce.

We have also put a freeze on recruitment, with the exception of the two Director-level appointments for Jumping and Endurance, for which the recruitment process is ongoing.

In addition to the temporary partial unemployment of HQ staff, we are taking all possible cost saving measures to reduce our expenditure, including the postponement of non-essential projects. Cost cutting is necessary, but the measures taken should allow the FEI to survive this crisis and limit the financial damage as much as possible.

Despite all these measures, the fact that our staff have been working from home since 13 March resulting in more meetings than ever taking place via videoconferencing, our service to National Federations and stakeholders remain unaffected.

What is being done to assist Organisers and other stakeholders during this time?

All Calendar Fees have been waived for Events between 15 March 2020 and the end of the year. A decision on how we can help organisers financially has been deferred to the FEI Board meeting in June until there is more clarity on how many Events will potentially be organised in 2020.

Annual subscriptions for our 137 National Federations will be reduced to 50% this year, and we have extended the deadline for all invoices to be paid from 30 to 90 days.

Will FEI.TV subscribers be reimbursed while there’s no live sport coverage on?

FEI.TV will be providing all its coverage of past events and special equestrian features free of charge to everyone while live sport is on hold and existing subscribers will be compensated for the missing months.

Tokyo 2020

What are the new dates for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2021?

The new dates are 23 July to 8 August 2021 for the Olympic Games and 24 August to 5 September 2021 for the Paralympic Games. The Games will retain their current name and will continue to be known as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, or simply Tokyo 2020, even though they will take place in 2021. 

Are the Olympic and Paralympic qualifiers impacted by Covid-19?

No, all qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the three Equestrian disciplines, Jumping, Dressage and Eventing, and all qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, have already taken place and all the quota places have been filled accordingly.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 Qualification system principles Q and A

Important questions applicable to equestrian sport have been extracted from the Q&A created by the IOC about Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The full Q&A can be found here.
What is the new definite entries deadline for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020?

Following the rescheduling of Tokyo 2020, the revised definite entries deadline is now 5 July 2021 for the Olympic Games and 2 August 2021 for the Paralympic Games.

How is the age eligibility criteria affecting athletes now that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 have been rescheduled?

Any exception due to safety and/or medical reasons and/or any restriction on those athletes who reached the minimum age for eligibility by the revised deadline in 2021, if any, will be subject to the decision of the respective IF. The IOC recognises the full authority of IFs to assess the eligibility of those athletes who are not eligible in July 2020 but meet the lower age limit in 2021.

Will National Olympic Committees (NOC) which could not achieve their Certificate of Capability (COC) by the deadline now have the opportunity to send their COC at a later date?

All team quota places have been allocated for equestrian sport. The confirmation of a NOC to reject or accept the allocated quota places cannot be reversed.

Will MERs obtained for Tokyo 2020 expire? / What is the approved timeframe for MERS now that the Games have been postponed by a year? updated 18 June 2020

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Due to the postponement of the Olympic Games and the impossibility for athletes to compete currently due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the following modifications have been made to the Athletes Eligibility section:

  • Introduction of a new concept: “Confirmation Result” for the three disciplines only for those Athlete/Horse combinations that had achieved the Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MER) during the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. This has been introduced to ensure that all Athlete/Horse combinations that will compete at the rescheduled Olympic Games have achieved an appropriate result during a reasonable period of time before the Olympic Games.
  • Rescheduling the MER Deadline to 21 June 2021 (three weeks later than the corresponding deadline in 2020) to maximise opportunities for Athlete/Horse combinations (including new combinations) to obtain the MER.
  • 21 June 2021 has been set as the deadline for Athlete/Horse combinations to achieve the Confirmation Result (where applicable).

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Qualification systems are available on the FEI website here and the IOC has also provided the Equestrian qualification systems to the National Olympic Committees.

 

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Due to the postponements of the Paralympic Games, and the impossibility for athletes to compete currently due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the following modifications have been made to the Athlete Eligibility section:

  • To be eligible for selection by an NPC, athletes must:
    Be internationally classified with a ‘Confirmed’ sport class status or a ‘Review’ sport class status with a review date after 31 December 2021.
  • To be eligible for selection by an NPC, athlete/horse combinations must:
    Have achieved at least one (1) sixty-two (62) percent score at a FEI Para Equestrian 3* or above event in an Individual or Team competition between 1 January 2019 and 5 July 2021.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Qualification systems are available on the FEI website here.

Is the IOC looking at the potential impact of Covid-19 for the Tokyo Games next year?

A number of measures addressing the potential impact of COVID-19 will be incorporated into the Games Delivery Plan for the Games in 2021.

When will the IOC provide a plan for delivery of the Tokyo 2020 Games next year?

The details of planning for Tokyo 2020 in 2021 are being examined during April with a view to establishing a new roadmap for the Games by May 2020, in order to then align resources and priorities accordingly. 

The IOC has created a detailed document on the revised Tokyo 2020 qualification system principles.

FEI Championships and Series

Further discussions will be held and decisions made on FEI Championships, for all age categories and disciplines, at the FEI Board videoconference in June. We will keep our community updated as soon as we have further news.

Rankings

What is the status for the Rankings of all FEI Disciplines? updated 18 June 2020

Since 1 April 2020, the period during which ranking points remain valid in Jumping (Longines Rankings), Eventing, Dressage and Para Dressage will be prolonged by one month and will continue to be prolonged for an additional month with each new ranking until the competition calendar returns to normal.

Points earned in ranking competitions at events that take place during the current Covid-19 affected period will continue to count, and the maximum number of results that count for each athlete will remain, ie for the Longines Jumping Rankings best 30; Dressage best eight; Eventing and Para Dressage best six.

Rankings for the other FEI disciplines – Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining – are calculated on a fixed period (calendar year or other fixed period) so they will remain untouched. The change to the Driving Rules that means the discipline rankings will be based on a rolling 12 months does not come into effect until 1 January 2021.

For Jumping, Eventing, Dressage and Para Dressage, the following system will apply:

  • The rankings established after 29 February 2020 remain unchanged (points valid for 12 months: best results at events taking place between 1 March 2019 and 29 February 2020).
  • The rankings established after 31 March 2020 have been calculated based on the best results at events taking place between 1 March 2019 and 31 March 2020 (points valid for 13 months).
  • The rankings established after 30 April 2020 have been calculated based on the best results at events taking place between 1 March 2019 and 30 April 2020 (points valid for 14 months).
  • The rankings established after 31 May 2020 have been calculated based on the best results at events taking place between 1 March 2019 and 31 May 2020 (points valid for 15 months).
  • and so on until the competition calendar returns to normal.

A working group will recommend to the FEI Board at what point the competition calendar is deemed to have returned to normal worldwide. As of that date, the rankings will continue to be calculated over the extended timeframes above, guaranteeing there will always be at least 12 months of normal competitions included in the calculation of the rankings.

Twelve months after the competition calendar is deemed to have returned to normal globally, the timeframe during which ranking points remain valid will be decreased by one month with each new ranking until the standard 12-month rolling timeframe has been reached.

The new system provides a level playing field for all our athletes as ranking points can still be earned in countries where the sport is able to continue, regardless of the length of time the current situation lasts, but athletes in countries where the sport is on hold will not lose points. An athlete’s ranking points can only improve, not decrease during this period, as the relevant number of best results in each discipline still applies.

Full details on New Covid-19 Policy for Longines Rankings can be found here.

Full details on New Covid-19 Policy for other disciplines Rankings can be found here.

FEI Officials

Are FEI Officials obliged to travel to events where they are appointed?

In light of the global concerns about the spread of the virus as well as the increasing number of travel restrictions being enforced by national governments, the FEI has strongly recommended that all international events should be cancelled. However, if an OC decides to maintain its Event, the following applies:

FEI Officials appointed to FEI Events have the option not to travel or may be unable to travel. If the Official has been appointed by the FEI, they are required to inform the FEI that they are cancelling their appointment, following which the relevant Sport Department will, where possible, seek a replacement. 

If the Official is appointed by the Organising Committee or National Federation, in the first instance it is up to the OC/NF to find a replacement, but you can contact the FEI in case you need support.

Are FEI Officials covered by the FEI travel insurance policy?

Official Veterinarians and Testing Technicians that are appointed directly by, and travelling on behalf of the FEI – Testing Veterinarians, Testing Technicians, Examining Veterinarians and Measuring Veterinarians - are covered by the FEI travel insurance. 

All other Officials will need to contact the relevant Organising Committee directly.

Who is responsible for the reimbursement of Officials for any costs incurred due to the cancellation of an event?

FEI appointed Officials will be reimbursed by the FEI for any costs already incurred prior to the cancellation of an event. 

Officials appointed by the Organising Committee will be reimbursed by the Organising Committee for any costs and should contact them directly.

Are FEI Officials expected to know, and comply with, an OC’s Covid-19 measures at an Event?

Yes. Under the FEI Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the Covid-19 Pandemic, OCs are responsible for implementing and enforcing the Covid-19 risk mitigation measures they decided for their Event.

These measures are published by the FEI together with the approved Draft Schedule at the latest five working days before the Event deadline for definite entries. FEI Officials are expected to have read these documents before their arrival at the Event, and to comply with the measures whilst on site.

Are FEI Officials required to assess or monitor an OC’s Covid-19 measures?

No. However, FEI Officials can provide relevant feedback to the FEI on their Event report (paper or online) concerning the Covid-19 measures in place.

Are FEI Officials responsible for implementing an OC’s Covid-19 measures?

No. The implementation of the Covid-19 plan is the OC’s responsibility. In order to ensure that all the measures in their plan are carried out consistently and systematically, OCs must allocate appropriate resources in staff, volunteers, and service providers.

Are FEI Officials responsible for sanctioning people who do not comply with an OC’s Covid-19 measures?

No. The OC must monitor compliance with the Covid-19 measures. Individuals who refuse to comply can be asked to leave by the OC. FEI Officials are not required to monitor compliance with and enforce the Covid-19 measures. If they see a non-compliance issue on the venue, they can inform the OC, but they cannot fine or issue disciplinary sanctions for it.

How will the education system for FEI Officials work under the current circumstances?

In light of Covid-19, the following updates have been made to the Officiating Requirements for 2020/2021.

Officials who normally had until 15 December 2020 to fulfil their officiating requirements now have their deadline extended to 15 December 2021.

Group A Officials

Have to take their CES Online Assessment before 15 December 2020:

  • If successful, they stay in “Group A” and will have until 15 December 2021 to take their next CES Online Assessment
  • If unsuccessful, they will have to do an In-Person Maintenance Course before 15 December 2021
  • If the CES Online Assessment is not taken, the function will be closed

Note that to officiate at events taking place after 31 March of each year, Officials must successfully complete the CES Online Assessment.  This requirement remains unchanged.

Group B Officials

Have until 15 December 2021 to attend their In-Person Maintenance Course:

  • Officials who already attended and passed the In-Person Maintenance Course before 15 December 2020 will become “Group A” in 2021, and will be required to take a CES Online Assessment before 15 December 2021
  • If the In-Person Maintenance Course is not attended by 15 December 2021, the function will be closed

For more information on officiating requirements, please refer to the FEI Competency-Based Evaluation System (CES) section on Inside.FEI.org.

Veterinary

In view of the current Covid-19 situation, will there be any derogations made by the FEI in relation to the Equine Influenza (EI) vaccination requirements?

The FEI has determined that derogations from the EI vaccination requirements will not be permitted. Horses must be vaccinated in compliance with the Veterinary Regulations, Article 1003 in order to compete.

However, subject to Article 20.3 of the FEI Statutes, the FEI Board has approved to temporarily derogate the application of Articles 23, 24 and 25 of Annex VI of the Veterinary Regulations until 31 December 2020 given the fact that, from an immunological perspective, this waiver does not constitute a risk for lower immunity against EI.

In view of the current Covid-19 situation, will there be any derogations made by the FEI in relation to Pony Measurement?

Subject to Article 20.3 of the FEI Statutes, the FEI Board has approved to temporarily derogate Article 1087.2 of the Veterinary Regulations in order to allow for ponies newly registered as of 1 January 2020 to be able to compete without an FEI height certificate until 31 December 2020. Three events are exempted from the derogation: FEI European Pony Championships; FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth Final; FEI Jumping Ponies Trophy Final.

The FEI Veterinary Regulations 2020 (Article 1087.4) will apply and measurement will be carried out in accordance with Annex IV of the Veterinary Regulations. Where possible, Measuring Sessions for the above three events will be organised for the newly registered ponies in advance of the Events.

General Information

Where can FEI Athletes, Organisers, National Federations and Stakeholders find general information about Covid-19?

We as a community have to make our contribution to limit the spread of this virus, as the sooner it can be contained the sooner we will be able to get back to normal life and normal sport. And this is something that every other sport is doing.
It is our collective responsibility to remain fully informed through our own national health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO). 
There is lots of information available on the WHO website and the FEI will also keep you regularly updated. For convenience, we have copied the WHO Q&A below. 

How do I take care of my horse(s) properly and ride safely in the current situation? New, 27 March 2020

Please make sure you follow the governmental measures put in place in your country, keep yourself informed through your National Federation on the rules to respect if you are able to ride out and respect the local rules at your stables.

Some common best practices in the current situation include:

  • Coordinate with other horse owners to limit the number of people at the stables at the same time by creating a timetable or WhatsApp group 
  • Maintain the required physical distance from other persons 
  • Make sure to use only your own riding equipment and do not share it
  • If you need to use shared equipment, such as wheelbarrows, disinfect areas you touch and wear disposable gloves if possible
  • Avoid behaviour that could increase the risk of injury
  • Do not linger at the stables

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Q&A

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has updated its Covid-19: Athlete Q&A with additional content to reflect the changing testing environment and the fact that a growing number of Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) are resuming normal testing. Both this Q&A and the original document, which was published by WADA on 23 March 2020, have been developed in consultation with WADA’s Athlete Committee.

WADA also updated its guidance to ADOs on 6 May 2020 to produce the ADO Guidance for Resuming Testing.

World Health Organization (WHO) Q&A on Coronaviruses (Covid-19)

What is a Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

What is Covid-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. 

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around one out of every six people who gets Covid-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How does Covid-19 spread?

People can catch Covid-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with Covid-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch Covid-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch Covid-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with Covid-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than one metre (3ft) away from a person who is sick. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways Covid-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.

Can the virus that causes Covid-19 be transmitted through the air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes Covid-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. See previous answer on “How does Covid-19 spread?”.

Can Covid-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching Covid-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with Covid-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch Covid-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.  WHO is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of Covid-19 and will continue to share updated findings.

Can I catch Covid-19 from the faeces of someone with the disease?

The risk of catching Covid-19 from the faeces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in faeces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways Covid-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings. Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating.

What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?

Protection measures for everyone
Stay aware of the latest information on the Covid-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Many countries around the world have seen cases of Covid-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable, so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading Covid-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
    Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least one metre (3ft) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. 
    Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the Covid-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
    Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. 
    Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and Covid-19.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority. 
    Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Keep up to date on the latest Covid-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where Covid-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid travelling to these places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease. 
    Why? You have a higher chance of catching Covid-19 in one of these areas. 

Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where Covid-19 is spreading

  • Follow the guidance outlined above (Protection measures for everyone)
  • Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people. 
    Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible Covid-19 and other viruses.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travellers. 
    Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of Covid-19 and other viruses.
How likely am I to catch Covid-19?

The risk depends on where you are and, more specifically, whether there is a Covid-19 outbreak unfolding there.

For most people in most locations the risk of catching Covid-19 is still low. However, there are now places around the world (cities or areas) where the disease is spreading. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching Covid-19 is higher. Governments and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of Covid-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading Covid-19.

Covid-19 outbreaks can be contained and transmission stopped, as has been shown in China and some other countries. Unfortunately, new outbreaks can emerge rapidly. It’s important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go. WHO publishes daily updates on the Covid-19 situation worldwide. You can see these at: 
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/.

Should I worry about Covid-19?

Illness due to Covid-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about one in every five people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the Covid-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.

We can channel our concerns into actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. First and foremost among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.

Learn more about how to protect yourself at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public.

Who is at risk of developing severe illness?

While we are still learning about how Covid-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the Covid-19?

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. Covid-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of Covid-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

Are there any medicines or therapies that can prevent or cure Covid-19?

While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of Covid-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for Covid-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings are available.

Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for Covid-19?

Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat Covid-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalised. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat Covid-19.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against Covid-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of your elbow or a tissue, and maintain a distance of at least one metre (3ft) from people who are coughing or sneezing. (See Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus).

Is Covid-19 the same as SARS?

No. The virus that causes Covid-19 and the one that caused the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related to each other genetically, but the diseases they cause are quite different.

SARS was more deadly but much less infectious than Covid-19. There have been no outbreaks of SARS anywhere in the world since 2003.

Should I wear a mask to protect myself?

Only wear a mask if you are ill with Covid-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have Covid-19. Disposable face masks can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a worldwide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.

WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks (see Advice on the use of masks).

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against Covid-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of your elbow or a tissue, and maintain a distance of at least one metre (3ft) from people who are coughing or sneezing. (See Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus).

How do I put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask?
  1. Remember, a mask should only be used by health workers, care takers, and individuals with respiratory symptoms, such as fever and cough. 
  2. Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  3. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.
  4. Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip is).
  5. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the coloured side).
  6. Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it moulds to the shape of your nose.
  7. Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin.
  8. After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.
  9. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use.
  10. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.
How long is the incubation period for Covid-19?

The “incubation period” means 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, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

Can humans become infected with the Covid-19 from an animal source?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in animals. Occasionally people get infected with these viruses which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of Covid-19 have not yet been confirmed.  

To protect yourself, such as when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.

Can I catch Covid-19 from my pet?
No. There is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes Covid-19.
How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes Covid-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the Covid-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Is it safe to receive a package from any area where Covid-19 has been reported?

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes Covid-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

Is there anything I should not do?

The following measures are NOT effective against Covid-2019 and can be harmful:

  • Smoking
  • Wearing multiple masks
  • Taking antibiotics (See question 10 "Are there any medicines of therapies that can prevent or cure Covid-19?")

In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.

Stay up to date with the latest information and international travel and health on the WHO website.
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide, has created a Q&A on Covid-19 in response to multiple queries about animals and the virus.

 
Can humans transmit Covid-19 virus to animals?

Now that Covid-19 virus infections are widely distributed in the human population there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans. 

Studies are underway to better understand the susceptibility of different animal species to the Covid-19 virus and to assess infection dynamics in susceptible animal species.

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of Covid-19. Human outbreaks are driven by person-to-person contact.

What do we know about Covid-19 virus and companion animals?

The current spread of Covid-19 is a result of human-to-human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare. 

The Veterinary Services of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China reported to OIE evidence that two dogs have been infected with the Covid-19 virus following close exposure to owners who were sick with Covid-19 – see Immediate Notification (01/03/2020), Follow-up report no.1 (09/03/2020), Follow-up report no. 2 (16/03/2020) and Follow-up report no. 3 (23/03/2020). The test, conducted by real time PCR, showed the presence of genetic material from the Covid-19 virus. The dogs were not showing any clinical signs of the disease. 

There is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick. Further studies are underway to understand if and how different animals could be affected by Covid-19 virus. The OIE will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

What precautionary measures should be taken by owners when companion or other animals have close contact with humans who are sick or suspected of having Covid-19?

There have not been any reports of companion or other animals presenting clinical signs caused by Covid-19 virus infection and currently there is no evidence that they play a significant epidemiological role in this human disease. However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases (known as zoonotic diseases), it is still recommended that people who are sick with Covid-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information is known about the virus.

When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.

When possible, people who are sick or under medical attention for Covid-19 should avoid close contact with their pets and have another member of their household care for their animals. If they must look after their pet, they should maintain good hygiene practices and wear a face mask if possible.

Are there any precautions to take with live animals or animal products? 

Although there is uncertainty about the origin of the Covid-19 virus, in accordance with advice offered by the World Health Organization (WHO), as a general precaution, when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets, general hygiene measures should be applied. These include regular hand washing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products, as well as avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth, and avoiding contact with sick animals or spoiled animal products. Any contact with other animals possibly living in the market (e.g., stray cats and dogs, rodents, birds, bats) should be avoided. Precaution should be taken to avoid contact with animal waste or fluids on the soil or surfaces of shops and market facilities.

As per general good food safety practices, raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid potential cross-contamination with uncooked foods. Meat from healthy livestock that is prepared and served in accordance with good hygiene and food safety principles remains safe to eat. Further recommendations from WHO can be consulted here.

Based on currently available information, trade restrictions on animals or animal products are not recommended. Similarly, precautions for packaging materials are unnecessary over and above the observation of basic hygiene, such as ensuring it is clean and free of visible contamination.

What are the Veterinary Authority’s international responsibilities in this event?

The detection of Covid-19 virus in animals meets the criteria for reporting to the OIE through WAHIS, in accordance with the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code as an emerging disease.

Therefore, any detection of the Covid-19 virus in an animal (including information about the species, diagnostic tests, and relevant epidemiological information) should be reported to the OIE.

It is important for Veterinary Authorities to remain informed and maintain close liaison with public health authorities and those responsible for wildlife to ensure coherent and appropriate risk communication messages and risk management.

It is important that Covid-19 does not lead to inappropriate measures being taken against domestic or wild animals which might compromise their welfare and health or have a negative impact on biodiversity. 

In some countries, National Veterinary Services are supporting core functions of the public health response, such as screening and testing of surveillance and diagnostic samples from humans. Veterinary clinics in some countries are also supporting the public health response by donating essential materials such as personal protective equipment and ventilators.

What is the OIE doing?

The OIE is in contact with its Regional Representation in Asia and The Pacific, OIE Delegates of Member Countries, the OIE Wildlife Working Group, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WHO, to gather and share the latest available information. The OIE is closely liaising with its network of experts involved in current investigations on the source of the disease. Rumours and unofficial information are also monitored daily. 
The OIE has mobilised an informal advisory group on Covid-19. The group, which includes world leading scientists and researchers, meets on a regular basis to share the latest information on research and disease events at the human-animal interface. 

Given the similarities between Covid-19 and the emergence of other human infectious diseases at the human animal interface, the OIE is working with its Wildlife Working Group and other partners to develop a longer term work programme which aims to better understand the dynamics and risks around wildlife trade and consumption, with a view to developing strategies to reduce the risk of future spill over events.