About the coronavirus and how it spreads

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Both flu viruses and the novel coronavirus are droplet infections. This means that infection takes place mainly when the virus particles that have spread from an infected person to the air with saliva by, for instance, coughing, speaking, sneezing, get into the respiratory tract of another person from there. It is not possible to tell by symptoms only whether the disease is the novel coronavirus or some other virus causing a respiratory tract infection. That is why, if any acute respiratiry infection symptoms occur, it is recommended to suspect that it is the novel coronavirus, and do a coronavirus test to rule it out.


  • Influenza - fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, runny or blocked nose, fatigue, sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea. Most patients recover within less than two weeks. In some patients, flu may cause serious complications, including pneumonia. The prevalence of flu is very similar every year.

  • COVID-19 - coronavirus – fever, cough, breathing difficulties. COVID-19 symptoms have not been completely understood. It is also not yet known how serious these symptoms can be or how many people infected with COVID-19 virus have only very mild symptoms or none at all. Most cases of COVID-19 infection are not serious.

Virus spread

Every person infected with the influenza virus infects an average of 1.3 healthy people.

Coronavirus is more infectious than influenza. Each person infected with the COVID-19 virus infects an average of 2.2 people.


In case of coronavirus or influenza infection, people aged over 60 with weakened immune system and/or chronic diseases are at the highest risk. Co-morbidity increases the disease risk. Children infected with coronavirus usually have mild symptoms or do not have any symptoms. Influenza is much more dangerous for children, especially for very young children who can get severely ill.


COVID-19 mortality varies from region to region and depends on age and other factors. Older persons are the most vulnerable. Although COVID-19 mortality is not exactly known, most studies show that it is higher than the influenza mortality.


The mortality of influenza would be higher if there were no treatment and vaccination. For the treatment of influenza, there are several prescription medications that have a good impact if they are taken within one or two days of the onset of symptoms. There are also medicines that are given to prevent flu for people who have been in contact with the virus carrier. In addition, there are widely available vaccines against influenza that generate a certain level of immunity.

No specific treatment or any approved antiviral medicine exists yet for COVID-19. Doctors can therefore recommend the usual measures: rest, take medicines to reduce pain and fever, and consume fluids to prevent dehydration. Vaccines exist against COVID-19 but the availability is still limited.


In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the influenza virus, it is recommended that you should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, avoid contact with your face if hands are unwashed, avoid contacts with sick people, stay at home in the case of illness, and disinfect surfaces and objects you touch daily.


In the case of influenza, a pattern is observed that the spread of the disease decreases in the spring and returns in the autumn when the weather gets colder.

It is not known whether and how the weather affects the COVID-19 virus. Even if the spread of the COVID-19 virus declines in the spring, it may return in the autumn.

See more about keeping risk groups safe, and limiting the spread of the virus from the articles of the Institute for Health Development:

Last updated: 31.05.2021 09:53

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COVID-19 symptoms are non-specific and their severity can vary. The disease may not always produce symptoms, but it may also lead to severe pneumonia, which for those belonging to the risk groups in the worst case can also end in death.

The most common symptoms include :

  • fever (89,9%),
  • dry cough (67,7%),
  • fatigue (38.1%),
  • mucus (33,4%),
  • difficulty breathing (18,6%),
  • sore throat (13,9%),
  • headache (13,6%),
  • muscle and joint pain (14,8%),
  • cramps (11,4%),
  • nausea and vomiting (5.0%),
  • congested nose (4,8%),
  • diarrhea (3,7%),
  • coughing blood (0,9%),
  • irritated conjunctiva (0.8%).

 For most people who contract the coronavirus, the disease passes without complications and they get well.  

Reminder - the risk group for this virus includes the elderly as well as people with chronic disease, who often experience the more severe forms of the disease. 

Last updated: 22.09.2020 16:39

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Coronavirus infection can be more severe in people over 60 years of age or in people with chronic conditions as their organism and immunity may be weaker.

Examples of chronic diseases include diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, tumours, asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases, chronic kidney and liver diseases, and immunodeficiency.

Coronavirus spreads from person to person, mainly via droplet infection.

That is why it is necessary to avoid close contact with the elderly and people with chronic conditions as much as possible.

It is not advisable to take even your healthy children to their grandparents, because if the children should fall ill, the grandparents are at high risk.

Last updated: 31.05.2021 09:53

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According to current knowledge, pregnant women do not have a greater risk of getting infected with the corona virus than others and when they do get infected they do not suffer more severely. There is also no proof that the virus would go from the mother to her child before or during birth. Pregnant women should follow the same instructions as others, both to avoid getting infected and if they do get infected.

Last updated: 22.09.2020 16:39

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The corona virus does not spread though the ventilation system of an apartment building. Most infections happen through close contact by way of droplet infection when the droplets land on another person’s mucous membrane, i.e. in the nose, mouth or eyes. Infection can also happen from surfaces contaminated with the droplets. For instance, you can get infected by touching a door handle and then your face.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), currently there is not enough reliable evidence that the infection can spread through ventilation systems.

According to Hans Orru, the Associate Professor in Environmental Health at the University of Tartu, the amount of virus particles inhaled is also important. In order to get the necessary amount, there must be a close contact with a sick person or one must be in a small closed room with a sick person. An amount that could carry through the ventilation systems from the neighbours is not enough in a normal situation.

It is still always important to guarantee adequate air exchange in rooms to reduce the amount of virus particles in the rooms of both sick and healthy people. For this we recommend:

  • To air your living spaces regularly
  • In public spaces, to guarantee a good round-the-clock air exchange that would not allow the virus particles and contaminants to accumulate.

The corona virus is capable of attaching itself to aerosols but their amount in air decreases relatively quickly. According to a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, in three hours a sixth of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles remain.

Last updated: 22.09.2020 16:47

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You can accept and open postal packages ordered from the Internet without fear of getting infected with the virus.

The novel corona virus COVID-19 does not spread with postal packages.

Last updated: 27.04.2021 12:53

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According to research, coronavirus cannot be transmitted with food, therefore it is not likely food would spread the virus. Coronaviruses need a host body, an animal or a human to survive and multiply.

Last updated: 24.09.2020 15:54

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According to current knowledge, animals do not transmit infections to humans and therefore it is safe for animal keepers to care for them: feed them, treat them, etc. Thousands of pets have been tested around the world, and only in three cases the genetic residue of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing agent have been found in the samples taken from the pets of coronavirus patients. For none of the cases it can be confirmed that a disease in an animal was caused by coronavirus. Based on current knowledge, we can state that the virus residue found in the animal was caused by environmental contamination (the animal’s organism is like any other surface on which the virus deposits).

During the crisis it is also important to pay attention to animal welfare, and animals cannot be neglected.

Last updated: 14.04.2020 15:35

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According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) there is no evidence that anybody has caught the infection from a dead person.

There still might be a certain risk of infection in coming into contact with the bodily fluids of a dead person who had the coronavirus. Therefore, it is better to avoid any kind of contact with a dead person who had given a positive coronavirus sample.

Last updated: 24.09.2020 15:54

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The virus spreads from person to person through droplet infection, mainly by a close contact with a potentially infected person who has symptoms of the infection, primarily a cough.

Thus the virus can spread from person to person in several different ways:

  • Droplets or aerosols. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, the droplets or small particles called aerosols carry the virus from his nose or mouth into the air. Anyone that is closer than 2 meters to this person can breathe them into their lungs. That is why it is important to keep a distance and wear a mask.
  • Spreading through the air. Studies have shown that the virus can live in the air for up to 3 hours. It can get into your lungs if someone who has it exhales and you inhale that air. To prevent this from happening, it is important to air and ventilate rooms often.
  • Surface transmission. Another way to become infected is to touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed onto. For instance, you can get the virus if you touch a contaminated work surface or door knob, and then touch your nose, mouth or eyes. On surfaces like plastic or stainless steel, the virus can live for 2-3 days. To stop the spread of the virus, clean and disinfect all tables, buttons and other surfaces that you or your family touches several times a day.

Most often the virus spreads through symptomatic people. But it is possible to transmit the virus without showing any signs of it. Some people who do not know that they are infected can transmit the virus to others. This is called asymptomatic spread. It is also possible to transmit the virus before the signs of infection are noticed. This kind of infection is called presymptomatic spread.

The best way to contain the spread of the virus is to limit contacts with other people. There are several ways to do this:

  • If you can, work from home.
  • Avoid travelling, if possible. This is especially important if you or somebody you live with is older than 65 years of age or has a chronic disease. This increases the risk that the progression of the disease will be more severe.
  • Keep contact with your family and friends by phone and computer instead of meeting them face-to-face.
  • If you do need to go out, stand at least 2 meters away from people.
  • Wear a face mask when going out.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • If you are sick, stay at home in a separate bedroom away from others.
  • If possible, buy your groceries and medicines online.

Last updated: 24.11.2020 11:25

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Be mindful of the safety and health of yourself and others. Before starting as a volunteer make sure that you are healthy and know how to protect yourself and others from the virus. Don't put yourself in danger by helping others and don't spread the viruses yourself. If you yourself are in a risk group -- if you are over the age of 60 or have a chronic disease -- it would be sensible to stay at home and not put yourself in unnecessary danger. If you are in a risk group, you could, for instance, help people by making supportive phone calls.

If you are healthy and wish to contribute as a volunteer and help people who have run into problems, start close to you -- from your building, street, village, municipality, association.

Voluntary work is offering up your time, energy, or skills out of free will and without getting any remuneration. Volunteers help others or work mainly in the public interests and for the good of the society. It is important to ensure that noone would be left without attention or, to the contrary, would put themselves in danger by helping someone or accepting help. Physical contacts should be avoided when offering up help, so that further spread of the virus and even larger damage could be minimised and avoided.

When it comes to calls for voluntary action, you should maintain a clear head and make sure that the goal, intermediary and caller are trustworthy, in order to stop the fast spread of the virus and protect yourself from scams.

  1. If you wish to offer your services as a volunteer to organisations or need support to work as a volunteer, use the portal Vabatahtlike Värav at https://vabatahtlikud.ee/eng. The page also aggregates the guidelines that have been issued to volunteers and non-governmental organisations on hhow to act in the current situation.

  2. You can also register the need for or offer to help person-to-person or community-to-community at the www.helpific.com/en environment. The volunteers of the Helpific web-based environment help the elderly or high risk people with delivering food and medicines to their homes. The volunteers also offer their assistance in daily errands, household tasks, going to the doctor or rehabilitation etc.

If you need help, then:

  • enter the Helpific support environment at www.helpific.com/en;
  • fill out your profile;
  • write down your request for assistance;
  • it is also possible to call the support line of Helpific at 5660 4642 and let them know of your request for assistance. If you wish for food to be delivered to your home, put together a list of the products you need and give it to the support line along with your contact details.

Register yourself as a volunteer to make your contribution to fighting the corona crisis. For that:

  • find Zelos Team Management from the Google Play or Appstore environments and download it;
  • create an account for yourself;
  • search for the keyword "Helpific"
  • choose a request for assistance that you are ready to fulfil.

Last updated: 04.03.2021 13:16

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More information about the coronavirus and restrictions related to it is available calling 1247 (from abroad +372 600 1247).