The SOS Card Project

Advice in relation to the outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus in China

What is SARS-CoV-2 / 2019-nCoV?

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, formally 2019 novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV) is a beta-coronavirus that attacks the respiratory tract and can lead to severe pneumonia. This disease can be fatal.

Is 2019-nCoV like SARS?

Yes, in many ways 2019-nCoV is similar to the SARS virus of 2002:

  • It's a beta coronavirus.
  • It attacks the respiratory system.
  • It causes high fever.
  • It can be transmitted from person to person.

However, there is a difference: the incubation period of 2019-nCoV is probably :!: on average 5.2 days, between two days and two weeks, that of SARS only between two to seven days. This is bad because it takes so much longer for an infected person to show symptoms, so the time an infected person can infect others is longer.

How is 2019-nCoV transmitted?

From animal to human

Some of the first patients were traders from the Huanan fish market (Chinese 华南海鲜批发市场). Gloves, face masks and protective glasses should be worn when handling fish, birds and wild animals. The greatest possible care should be taken when preparing food from fish, poultry and meat.

From person to person

When a patient sneezes in the hand, the viruses stick to the palm of the hand, for example. If the patient now shakes hands with another person, the viruses can continue to migrate. If this person then brings his hand to his mouth, nose or eyes, he can become infected with the pathogen through the mucous membranes.

Via objects

Viruses can also stick to objects.

The length of time that viruses remain on an object depends on the environment in which the object is located.

If, for example, via door handles or handholds in buses etc. which are used by many people, the viruses can also be passed on via the hands and then be led to the mouth unnoticed.

How can I protect myself against 2019-nCoV?

(1) Wash your hands

Wash your hands as often as possible when you come home, arrive at the office, etc. Use a hand disinfectant afterwards.

(2) Use disinfectant

Use disinfection spray, wipes or gel for hand disinfection. After getting on the bus, subway, taxi or even in your own car, your hands should be disinfected.

(3) Suitable disinfectants

The disinfectant should bear the marking

  • “limited virucidal, effective against enveloped viruses”
    or
  • “virucidal”
(4) “Hands below the shoulders”

When you leave the house, your hands should always remain below shoulder height.

Aim: The hands should not touch the mouth or the nose or the eyes.

(5) Wear face mask

If you are outside the home, wear a medical mask. This face mask prevents you from becoming infected by touch or by droplets (when a sick person coughs) through the mouth or nose.

An used mask should be handled as follows: the outer part is folded in half (the outer part becomes the inside), and then it is torn apart by hand and thrown away.

If no medical face masks are available, tie a thin cotton cloth or a scarf over your nose and mouth to avoid carelessly touching your mouth or nose with your (dirty) hands.

Before reuse, the used cloth or scarf must be washed with more than 60 degrees hot water or cleaned with a disinfectant.

Wearing glasses offers additional protection against involuntary eye contact (e.g. scratching itchy eyes with dirty hands).

(6) Eat vegetarian

It is still unclear how the viruses can spread via infected animals. Fish, poultry, eggs and meat should be cooked during preparation, i.e. completely heated.

It is advisable to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, i.e. to avoid fish, poultry, eggs and meat altogether until more precise scientific findings are available.

Fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly and repeatedly before consumption.

(7) Use serving chopsticks and serving spoons

When eating together, always use serving chopsticks and serving spoons to prevent transmission from one to the other.

The food served from the bowl or serving plate is placed in your own (small) bowl with using public chopsticks or serving spoons, whereby the serving chopsticks / spoons must not touch the bowl or the food in it. Place the serving chopsticks / serving spoons back in the bowl / on the serving plate. Then use your own chopsticks to take the food from your own bowl.


When eating together from a common bowl (traditional Chinese way of eating), there is a risk that an infected person will contaminate the food via the saliva sticking to the chopsticks, thus infecting other people.


When using a serving spoon (or serving chopsticks), the food is first poured into one's own bowl. This prevents other people from being infected while eating.


  • Do not serve food to your guest with your own chopsticks.
  • Use two colours, e.g. red chopsticks as public chopsticks, black chopsticks as personal chopsticks
(8) Clean your mobile phone

When you arrive at home or at your office, at friends, in a restaurant, wipe your phone with a screen cleaning cloth (paper towel soaked with an alcohol-based cleaner) or put some disinfectant solution on a soft cloth and wipe the phone. Make sure that the back, the buttons and any accessories (cover, Bluetooth remote control, etc.) are also cleaned.

(9) Clean surfaces

Human coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus or endemic human coronaviruses (HCoV) can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days. 1) 2019-nCoV is also a coronavirus.

(10) Pay attention to public announcements in the media

At present, the information situation is changing rapidly. Please pay attention to the information provided by the Chinese authorities, which you will find on the radio and in the press.

How can I tell if I have been infected with 2019-nCoV?

The incubation period is up to two weeks, which means that even after an infection, the patient is long without symptoms.

Symptoms are likely :!: to be:

  • sudden onset, rapidly rising, high fever
  • headache
  • inflammation of both lungs

Should I take antibiotics prophylactically?

No! Antibiotics inhibit the growth of other microorganisms or kill them. Antibiotics work against bacteria, not against viruses. So taking antibiotics does not protect against infection with 2019-nCoV!

This is preliminary information

:!: Much information, such as on the pathways of infection and the incubation period, is not yet documented because this new disease has not yet been fully studied scientifically. Please visit the page of The SOS Card Project URL: http://www.sos-card.info/ on a regular basis to get an updated version. As a holder of an SOS Card you will receive the information sent to your mailbox.


As a holder of an SOS Card, you will be notified by e-mail if important new information arises while you are in the affected regions.

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1)
Günter Kampf et al.: Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and its inactivation with biocidal agents. University Medicine Greifswald and Bochum University, Germany. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2020.01.022