Page created: 12th November 2020

Latest update 15th September 2022


Before learning how to protect myself it is important to understand what are coronaviruses and Covid-19 in particular; what are the symptoms,  how does it spread and how long is the incubation period. Knowing this basic information provides the reasons why the need for self protection measures are important.

What are Coronaviruses?

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?

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. 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 1 out of every 6 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 is 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  2 metres 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.

How long is the incubation period of 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 2-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.
Above information provided by WHO

How to protect myself and others?
Wearing of facemasks
The Directorate-General for Health recommends the use of a mask in pharmacies, public transport and airports, maritime terminals and metro and train networks, according to the guidance “Covid-19: Adequacy of public health measures”, now updated.
The health authority says in the document that is published on its website, updated on Thursday that the guidance has been updated according to “the current epidemiological situation and the best scientific evidence”.
This recommendation comes about three weeks after the Government decreed the end of the mandatory use of a mask in public passenger transport, in taxis and TVDE and planes.
Thus, the Directorate-General for Health recommends the use of masks “by anyone over the age of 10 whenever they are in closed environments, in clusters, namely, in the use of collective passenger transport, including air transport, as well as in the transport of passengers by taxi or TVDE”.
Wearing a mask is also recommended on platforms and covered accesses to public transport, including airports, maritime terminals and metro and train networks.
The Directorate-General for Health also advises the most vulnerable people, namely those with chronic diseases or states of immunosuppression with an increased risk for severe covid-19, to wear a mask whenever they are in a “situation of increased risk of exposure”.
According to the guideline, the mandatory use of a mask remains in health service establishments, in residential or reception structures or home support services for vulnerable populations, the elderly or people with disabilities, as well as units in units in the National Care Network.
This obligation extends to contacts with confirmed cases of covid-19 for 14 days after the last exposure date.
The DGS underlines that, “in a scenario of alignment with the current epidemiological scenario, it is important that the transition of public health measures, prepared and published within the scope of the pandemic, be carried out in an appropriate way to minimize the risk of the disease for the population, especially the most vulnerable”.
The Council of Ministers approved a resolution that extends the measures in the context of Covid-19 until 23:59 hrs 30th September 2022. “The rules currently in force remain”, said Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva at the after-meeting press conference.

Useful Links For Every Day Life:

Those with impaired hearing now have access to a video call service platform at the Contact Centre of the National Health Service – SNS24.
More information here

General advice COVID-19:

The PDF leaflet for the following and more information can be downloaded at the foot of this page.

If you have any of these symptoms:

• Recurrent and persistent cough;
• Fever (37.5 degrees Celsius or higher)

You should preventively stay at home for 14 days, and call to SNS24 (808 24 24 24), which in
case of need will direct you for the most adequate healthcare institution.

Advice on staying at home:

• Don’t go to work, to school, to the pharmacy, or any healthcare unit or hospital
• Don’t share house divisions or clean it after every utilization;
• Avoid close contact with other people;
• Do not receive guests;
• Wash your hands before interacting with pets

When should I contact the National Health Service (SNS24)?

• When you feel your symptoms will not improve at home;
• When your condition detreorates;
• Your symptoms do not improve after 14 days;

How do I contact with the National Health Service?

The General Directorate of Health (DGS) supplies three ways to obtain access
to information

atendimento@sns24.gov.pt – to make questions about COVID-19 disease
Phone number SNS 808 24 24 24 – if you suspect you have COVID-19
Phone number 300 502 502 – to make questions about the period of quarantine, medical absence leaves to provide assistance to relatives.

What can I do to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus?

Director General of Health Portugal in line with the WHO recommends recommends hygiene measures, respiratory etiquette and food safety practices to reduce exposure and transmission of the disease:

Wash your hands frequently

Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Why? Washing your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water kills the virus if it is on your hands.

Practice respiratory hygiene

When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. In general, use a face mask as soon as you have other people around you.

Why? Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing prevent the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may contaminate objects or people that you touch.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 2 metres distance between yourself and other people.

Why? When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like 2019-nCoV, coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

For more information, search in the microsite of the General Directorate of Health (Direção Geral da Saúde -DGS) https://www.dgs.pt/corona-virus