COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

A set of answers to the most important questions regarding COVID-19 pandemic and SCA's response.

What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a type of virus. A newly identified type has caused a recent pandemic of respiratory illness now called COVID-19.  

Why is the disease being called coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19?
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, 'CO' stands for 'corona,' 'VI' for 'virus,' and 'D' for the disease.

What are the sign and symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. People with fever and one of these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:
•    Fever
•    Cough
•    Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
•    Chills
•    Repeated shaking with chills
•    Muscle pain
•    Headache
•    Sore throat
•    New loss of taste or smell

How does the virus spread?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

Does the virus live or spread by being present on paper or other materials?
Yes but the length of time varies. Some strains of coronavirus live for only a few minutes on paper, while others live for up to 5 days.

Who is at the risk of developing the signs and symptoms leading to severe illness?
People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus or COVID-19. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

How can I help protect myself and others from the virus?
Know how it spreads, clean your hands often, avoid close contact, cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, cover coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect your surroundings.

What should I do if I have the signs and symptoms of the virus?
1.    Stay home except to get medical care
•    Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
•    Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better.
•    Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
•    Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
2.    Separate yourself from other people
•    As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering.
•    Additional guidance is available for those living in close quarters and shared housing.
•    See COVID-19 and Animals if you have questions about pets.
3.    Monitor your symptoms
•    Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath but other symptoms may be present as well. Trouble breathing is a more serious symptom that means you should get medical attention.
•    Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.

What should I do if I’ve had close contact with people who show the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or people who has the virus?
Self-quarantine. Since people who become ill with COVID-19 can infect people immediately self-quarantine can prevent some infections from happening.  .
In this case:
•    Have a large, well-ventilated single room with hand hygiene and toilet facilities
•    If this is not available place beds at least 1 metre apart.
•    Keep at least 1-metre distance from others, even from your family members.
•    Monitor your symptoms daily
•    Self-quarantine for 14 days, even if you feel healthy
•    If you develop difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider immediately – call them first if possible.
•    Stay positive and energized by keeping in touch with loved ones by phone or online, and by exercising yourself at home.

When should I seek medical attention?
If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:
•    Trouble breathing
•    Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
•    New confusion or inability to arouse
•    Bluish lips or face

Why is SCA’s all offices are open and operational?
Based on an official instruction by the ministry of economy, the lockdown in the cities does not fully apply to NGOs, hence, the SCA has maintained its offices either partially or completely open to deliver health and most needed services to all Afghans in our operational target areas.

Has any of SCA’s programs temporally been suspended or stopped?
Yes. All those activities that required gatherings of people e.g. trainings, workshops, non-essential field visits and international travels have been suspended.

Does SCA consider safety measures for its staff by providing Personal Protective Equipment: hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves?
Yes. Hand sanitizers are installed in all entrances and corridors and protective products such as masks and gloves are distributed to all staff working from the office. Infection prevention protocols are observed across all offices and service delivery points. Medical staff working in health facilities are provided with all required personal protection equipment regularly.  

Does SCA sanitize its offices routinely? 
Yes. All offices including commonly used spaces and surfaces are regularly sanitized and the staff has been trained.

Is SCA recruiting new employees during this pandemic?
Recruitment of new staff is not a priority at the moment given the circumstances. The recruiting manager should decide on the urgency of the recruitment i.e. if it is extremely important to fill the vacancy for continued operations, then they can proceed with the process i.e. advertise the position and take the recruitment up to the stage of offering the position. If at the time of offering the position, that office is not on work from the home policy the position should be offered. If the office is on work from home policy, offering the position should be kept pending until we are back into the business. 

When will the situation return to normal?
It is difficult to precisely predict. We hope that the situation returns back to normal as soon as possible so that we all operate from offices and work together for an Afghanistan free from poverty, discrimination, and violence.

What services have SCA provided through its health Programme?
It is obvious that Wardak province faced a huge surge of returnees from Iran, one of the epicenters of the CoVID-19 pandemic. Around 3,232 persons returned from Iran to Wardak province posing a huge threat to the population in the province and the whole country. SCA in collaboration with provincial public health directorate proactively responded at the provincial, district, and community levels for tackling the spread of COVID-19. The SCA focused on:
•    Strengthening the leadership and coordination for taking strategic decisions at the provincial level such as imposing social distancing, lockdown, control of gatherings, and coordination with other sectorial departments such as religious affairs, education, and rural development.
•    Extensively conducted risk communication (public awareness and health promotion) through engagement of health personnel at the provincial level and involvement of CHWs and Health Shuras at the district and community level.
•    Increased early case detection by supporting the national disease surveillance and by establishing the community-based surveillance system through the active engagement of CHWs and Health Shuras.
•    Activated a strong case referral mechanism together with the establishment of 25 beds isolation ward in provincial and 5, 5, beds isolation facilty in two district hospitals for proper case management and isolation in accordance to the WHO and MoPH guidelines.

Is SCA involved in combating this infection at the national level in Afghanistan?
SCA at the national level is actively engageed on both strategic and operational levels. 
On the strategic levels, SCA has its active representation and participation in:
•    Health committee of Ministry of Economy on Covid-19 response
•    Policy Committee of the Ministry of Economy on Covid-19 response
•    Any ad hoc base meeting organized by MoPH
•    In close contact with WHO and Health Cluster group
SCA is also providing experience sharing support to MoPH and other Covid-19 response partners including NGOs. 
On the operation levels, the SCA was actively coordinated the COVID-19 response activities with the National Disease Surveillance and Response System of the Ministry of Public Health. The SCA in collaboration with the PPHD implemented the decisions in Wardak province that were taken at the national level such as imposing lockdown, social isolation, the establishment of isolation wards, residual spraying for infection control, etc.