LAST UPDATED: 28 February 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

This page is regularly updated with guidance from World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as Swiss and Singaporean authorities.

What is novel coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of the coronavirus family of viruses that has not been previously identified in humans. The new coronavirus - COVID-19 – also known as 2019-nCoV, had not previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Other coronaviruses included severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Please visit the WHO for further information.

What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus?

COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

The new coronavirus is transmitted primarily by close and prolonged contact; in other words closer than two metres for more than 15 minutes. The virus spreads by droplet infection: if one person sneezes or coughs, the virus can be transported directly to the mucous membranes in the nose, mouth or eyes of other people.

The virus can also survive outside the body for a few hours in tiny droplets on hands or on surfaces such as handles, doorknobs, lift buttons, etc. It is not yet known whether it is also possible to contract the virus by touching these surfaces or objects and then touching one’s own mouth, nose or eyes.

How long is the period between infection and appearance of symptoms? And when do people become contiguous?

The new coronavirus has an incubation period – i.e. the time between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms – of about three to seven days. However, this period can last up to 14 days.

People with a viral respiratory disease are generally thought to be most contagious when they have the strongest symptoms. This could, however, be different for the new coronavirus. It might be that people are contagious before this: right before the appearance of their symptoms.

This means: People who have been in close contact (closer than two metres for more than 15 minutes) with people who have contracted the disease must be confined to their homes (put in a so-called quarantine). This measure limits or slows the spread of the virus to other people.

Can the virus be transmitted by packages or goods?

As a rule, a virus can only survive a few hours on objects. This means that packages taking several days to get here are harmless. Therefore, IMD has reinforced the cleaning services across campus.

What are the symptoms of the illness caused by the new coronavirus?

The most frequent symptoms are fever, coughing and respiratory problems. These symptoms can vary in severity. Complications, for example pneumonia, are also possible. Some people with the disease also have problems with their digestion or their eyes (conjunctivitis).

How is an infection with the new coronavirus detected?

Every suspected case of infection with the new coronavirus must be investigated by a doctor. The doctor will ask questions about travel, contact with other people and symptoms such as fever, coughing or respiratory problems.

Laboratory testing is the only way of obtaining conclusive confirmation. A lab test can be done, for example, with a nose and throat swab (nasopharyngeal swab). If the lab confirms infection, the person who has contracted the disease will be isolated in accordance with the cantonal medical officer’s instructions.

How can people protect themselves from infection with the new coronavirus?

You can reduce the risk of infection with the following measures:

Wash your hands several times a day with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.

If you have to cough or sneeze, hold a paper tissue in front of your nose and mouth. Then dispose of the tissue in a bin, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.

If you don’t have a paper tissue, cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm.

If you have been in close contact (closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes) with a person who is confirmed to have contracted the new coronavirus you must stay at home, as far as possible avoid contact with other people, and immediately phone a doctor or hospital.

There is no vaccination against infection with the new coronavirus.

What is the latest status of the coronavirus outbreak?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak an “international public health emergency”, reporting about 80,000 cases worldwide. The vast of majority of these cases have been reported in China, but the WHO global risk assessment is “high”. Many national authorities and companies have imposed restrictions on travel to and from China and other affected areas. There are further details of the current situation and actions being taken by national authorities most relevant to IMD’s operations on the websites of the Swiss and Singaporean authorities.

How is IMD monitoring the situation and managing its response to the outbreak?

We have established an internal Task Force that is working on a daily basis to comprehensively review and carefully assess information about the outbreak and its impact around the world from a wide range of sources, such as the WHO, national authorities (including those in Switzerland and Singapore) and airlines, as well as other universities and many of the organizations we work with throughout the year. Based on this assessment, the Task Force makes recommendations for any action to be taken by IMD in response to the outbreak. This approach ensures that our response to the outbreak is appropriate, balanced and effective.

What measures are currently in place at IMD’s Lausanne and Singapore campuses?

Visitors, participants and clients who visited/spent time in China or  any of the affected areas within the last 14 days should provide medical clearance/certificate showing that they are healthy and free of infection. Effective and efficient tests are now available at various clinics/hospitals around the world. In the vicinity of our campuses these tests are offered, for example, at CHUV in Lausanne and HUG in Geneva as well as NCID in Singapore. Concerned persons can contact the dedicated Coronavirus hotline set up by the Swiss health department: +41 58 463 00 00.

Areas affected means: Areas in which continued transmission of the virus from person to person is taking place or can be suspected. Please consult with the Swiss or the Singaporean authorities on latest updates.

If this is not possible, we request people in this situation respect the 14-day incubation period prior to visiting IMD’s campuses.

The same applies for those who had close proximity with persons who visited or travelled from China and/or any of the affected areas within the last 14 days.

What should I do if I think my engagement at IMD might be affected?

Please contact your respective client sales team or program director to discuss your concerns and, if necessary, make alternative arrangements. If you do not have a personal contact please email info@imd.org or call +41-21-618-01-11.

What can I do to protect myself from the disease?

WHO approach