What is the coronavirus? How can you contract it? Where can you get tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus? These and other questions are addressed by Tomasz Smiatacz, Ph.D., D.Sc., Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Vice-Rector for Students’ Affairs at the MUG.

In what follows you will find the most frequently asked questions. If you wish to ask a question which is not on the list please contact us via the website form.

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 – SARS-Cov-2 – causes coronavirus disease 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 diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Most importantly however they are non-specific, often undiscernible from e.g. typical influenza A. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.
If the COVID-19 infection is suspected, the material for testing is taken only after medical consultation and approval by an appropriate local State Sanitary Inspector. The laboratory of the County Sanitary and Epidemiological Station in Gdańsk does not perform commercial tests for SARS-CoV-2 virus. The results of these studies are mainly used for epidemiological purposes (patient isolation), they do not significantly change the patient’s medical management (only symptomatic treatment).
• directly when breathing in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales the droplets. Therefore, a distance of 1-1.5 m from another person is considered safe, provided that the person does not cough or sneeze in our direction (stream of respiratory secretion under pressure).
• indirectly when touching surfaces and objects contaminated by respiratory secretion (through coughing or sneezing). Although the virus cannot survive outside of the human body, it may take up to 48 hours for it to become inactive during which it may be infectious; therefore, wash you hands carefully and frequently and keep them away from your mouth and eyes.
The risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 the virus from an asymptomatic person is low. However, many people with confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 infection only experience mild symptoms. This is especially common in the early stages of the disease.
SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is indeed very contagious, but far from being as infectious as the viruses that have long been known to mankind, such as measles and chickenpox.
Latest studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) can persist on surfaces (with traces of secretions, such as, e.g. saliva) for a few hours or up to several days. As the World Health Organisation points out this may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

For example, the virus can survive for about 2-4 days on objects at room temperature. It can persist about 24h at higher temperatures outside the human body. However, it is not justifiable to believe that more warmth and sun – which are usually expected with the coming of spring – will help in ending the current epidemiological crisis. After all, the 36,6°C is the normal human body temperature and it does not cause the virus any harm.
An incubation period is the time between when you contract a virus and when your symptoms start. Current data indicates that incubation period for the SARS-Cov-2 virus is somewhere between 2 to 14 days after exposure, mostly around 5 days. However, this estimate may change as we learn more about the virus.
Cases of severe course of the disease were diagnosed in about 15-20% of patients so far. Death occurs in 2-3% of cases. . These data are probably overestimated, as many people with a mild infection have not undergone a clinical diagnosis. However, the risk of death increases significantly with age, especially after the age of 80.
Children are much least likely to contract the disease. Elderly people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness which in some cases may lead to death.
All evidence indicates the virus is droplet spread. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019 infection. Therefore, all we can do to protect ourselves and others is to implement safety measures such as, among others, frequently cleaning our hands, covering our cough with a bend of elbow and maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.
The people with co-existing chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, respiratory diseases, as well as severe immunodeficiencies are more likely to develop serious illness in relation to the COVID-19 infection. These people are prone to viral pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, the treatment of which is only symptomatic. So far, no drug has been developed that would limit the virus’ replication. This is a very serious and insidious form of pneumonia and often requires mechanical ventilation. Since the underlying cause and extent of the infection is serious so is the further health prognosis, which in some cases, indicates the death of the patient.
Firstly, you should reduce contact with people who are most at risk of contracting the virus to an absolute minimum, avoid crowds, gatherings, maintain at least 1m distance from other people.
I urge everyone to get vaccinated against flu. Although it cannot protect you from the SARS-Cov-2 virus, it highly reduced the risk of falling victim to influenza. Since the symptoms of these two viruses are often indiscernible and it’s the peak of the flu season, vaccination is more important than ever. Furthermore, getting influenza does not rule out contracting the SARS-Cov-2 as a co-infection.
Current research data indicates that the digestive system is not the gateway for coronavirus infection. First and foremost, it enters our system through the respiratory system and conjunctiva. However, it is potentially possible that we could unknowingly consume raw food contaminated with secretions of the sick seller / producer. The virus would come into contact with the mucous membranes in our mouths. First or all, you should remember about washing your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before preparing any meal. Wash fruit and vegetables under running water and thus, simply rinsing off the virus. Also, when we subject fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs to heat treatment of 60°C minimum the virus has no chance of surviving. We can also safely rely on pasteurized food.
COVID-19 treatment is only symptomatic. There is currently no specific drug that would prevent the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
A 60-80% alcohol can effectively eliminate the virus from the hands, but it should not be used to disinfect objects and surfaces as it evaporates very quickly and may not give the expected results. Also, please remember that frequent use of alcohol can irritate the skin.
These basic yet fundamental precautionary measures are available on the websites of the Ministry of Health and Chief Sanitary Inspectorate: • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. • Maintain at least 1 – 1,5 metre distance between yourself and the person you are speaking with. • Avoid crowds and large gatherings. • Make sure the places where meals are prepared are hygienic. • Do not share drinks and food, e.g. chips from one packet.
Our current state of knowledge does not indicate whether the pregnant women are at greater risk of contracting the COVID-19 disease and developing serious illness than the population average. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase the risk of certain infections. Serious illness may be caused by viruses of the same family as COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections such as influenza It is most essential that pregnant women protect themselves against all infections
At the moment, treatment of the SARS-CoV-2 infection – and the COVID-19 disease it generates – with chloroquine is in its experimental stage. It is already used by some practitioners at the J. Gromkowski Provincial Specialist Hospital in Wrocław. In addition to the anti-malarial drug the patients are also administered, among others, the HIV medication. However, I would not put much hope on the HIV drugs (Kaletra). There is not scientific evidence that such treatment actually works. The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) was completely resistant to it. Due to Kaltra’s specific structure I am afraid that it might interact with other drugs which are crucial to the patient’s health and well-being. As for chlorine – it probably works. However, it is an old and rarely used drug. Its resources are limited and have been all blocked by the Material Reserves Agency – to be used only in cases of patients in severe condition. What still remains at this stage is the proper organisation of the series of chloroquine’s clinical trials which would confirm its beneficial effects in fighting the COVID-19, as well as the logistics the drugs’ production and distribution.
Latest reports from China do not confirm the increased risk of severe infection or death in people with immunodeficiency. However, as a general rule, such people should be put under special care and thereby, protected against any possible infection. There is also a risk similar to the one faced in the case of swine influenza. If the infection occurs the symptoms may not be very severe, but the virus’ replication can take several months. We do not possess much scientific data in this regard yet. Nevertheless, I would strongly recommend protecting such patients from infections as much as possible.
The SARS-CoV2 infection can affect people of all ages. To date, the acquired data indicates that the CONVID-19 disease can take its most severe course in the elderly, with previously diagnosed chronic diseases. Advanced age is one of the decisive factors in fatal cases as well. The question about the incidence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections has not yet been credibly answered by scientific evidence. Apart from anecdotal information about few individual cases, no reliable epidemiological analysis – including age range – was carried out. For now we can justifiably state the following – it may be possible, however with low probability. Precise percentage is not yet known
We do not yet possess research data that would support this hypothesis. However, undergoing such medical procedure classifies one ex definitione as a high-risk patient and as such he/she should be very careful in the coming days when the nationwide epidemic reaches its peak. First of all, it is highly recommended for such patient to wear a mask (even a surgical one) in order to protect oneself from a natural face-touching reflexes. He or she should stay at home, frequently wash hands with water and soap or/and grain alcohol/Octenisept, even after the smallest of tasks. When entering the store, disposable gloves should be put on immediately

Questions about the Medical University of Gdańsk

All didacting activity has been suspended from 12th March till 10th April 2020. The suspension cannot be lifted before the 10th April.
The MUG’s administration will work as normal. However, it is highly recommended to maintain social distancing and reduce personal contact to the absolute minimum. Thus, we kindly ask to use phone or e-mail communication routes. In urgent cases, when personal visit is necessary, please come between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. prior to phone or e-mail notification.
Outside visitors have already been prohibited from entering the premises of the dormitories of the Medical University of Gdańsk. Students who have left the dormitories after 10th March whether to return home or for any other reason cannot return to their rooms until further notice.
Yes, the MUG continue to organize academic trips under the agenda of the Erasmus+ programme. At the moment however they are suspended under further notice. We express our sincere hope that the worldwide epidemiological situation will improve with the beginning of the new academic year.
Any fees for not returning books on time – provided that the date of their return falls within the period of closing the Library – will not be charged.
Yes, we ask for an immediate contact via e-mail: covid@gumed.edu.pl
The e-learning courses our currently under development at the MUG. All decisions regarding the courses are made by their supervisors. Please follow your e-mail.
In accordance with the ordinance by the Minister of Science and Higher Education, Jarosław Gowin all student IDs which are valid until 31st March 2020 have been automatically extended until 31st May 2020.
These particular issues remain are up to dean to decide. Each case shall will be taken under individual consideration and depending on the state of the epidemiological situation. The safety of all defence participants matters above all.
It is really hard to assess under current circumstances how and when the classes will be resumed. Please bear mind that the suspension will last over two weeks at the shortest. If the need for further quarantine shall arise we will, of course, take it into account. Each case shall be considered individually. Your safety however, matters above all. We will certainly find both time and way to cover the time a person’s been missing from classes.
Due to dynamic shifts in current epidemiological situation we cannot predict the future with much certainty. We are trying to introduce every measures possible to protect our students currently residing in dormitories as much as we can, advising them to stay indoors and leave only for a specific reason. Depending on the development of the COVID-19 epidemiology in Poland and abroad international flights are to be resumed probably within the next 8-10 days. However, as for now, travelling abroad is almost impossible. We are currently developing online courses, some of which should already be available. Also, we are now actively preparing to provide medical services to anyone who may need them in the future.
In the light of the current epidemiological situation and its dramatic shifts practical classes cannot be conducted remotely. Practical clinical teaching during the 6th studies of studies is conducted in clinics or hospital wards of healthcare entities. Therefore, due to the suspension of all didactic activity classes of such profile cannot be realised neither in their initial (pre-epidemic) form nor remotely. We are most aware of the fact that this may generate many issues in regards to the completion of medical studies in their designated time. We will provide proper information on the existing problem to the Ministry of Health. Unfortunately, we believe that the same problem may apply to the pharmacy programme, the medicine-dentistry programme as well as to the nursing and obstetrics programmes.
Fees for accommodation in March and April 2020 shall be determined in proportion to days spent in the dormitory.

Last update: 17.04.2020 r., godz. 10:30