Q&A about Novel Coronovirus (For the General Public)

April 4, 2020

3  Transmission patterns

Q4  How is the new coronavirus transmitted?


At the moment, there are two types of infections: droplet infections and contact infections.


(1) Spray infection

The virus is released along with the infected person's droplets (sneezing, coughing, spit, etc.), and others are infected by inhaling the virus through the mouth or nose.

* Main infection areas:  Inside areas, places where people spend a certain amount of time together without maintaining enough distance between each other.


(2) Contact infection

After the infected person sneezes and covers their cough with their hand, they touch an object (or objects) around them and transmit the virus to the object.  When another person touches the object, the virus sticks to the hand and infects the person through the mucous membrane when that person touches his/her mouth or nose.

* Main infection locations: Train and bus straps, doorknobs, escalator hand belts, switches, etc.



Q5  Is air-borne transmission occurring?


Judging from the status of infection in Japan, it is thought that airborne infection is not occurring.  However, there is a risk of spreading the infection even without coughing or sneezing in closed spaces where a lot of people are talking to each other in close proximity.

Q6  Can it be transmitted from an infected person with no symptoms (asymptomatic pathogen carrier)?


Usually, in the case of a viral infection that causes pneumonia or the like, the chances of transmitting the virus to others are highest when the symptoms are most pronounced.



Although the likelihood of transmission is low, the novel coronavirus is not fully understood, so please take measures against general infectious diseases and for health management (see Question 13).

Q7  Can the new coronavirus be transmitted from pets?  (UPDATED)


Until now, there have been no reports of cases in which the novel coronavirus has infected animals such as pets.  In general, in addition to avoiding a lot of contact with animals,  please wash your hands or disinfect with alcohol-based hand rub after coming into contact with animals.


Reference:  Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, page on Animal borne infections (in Japanese)

Q8  Can the infection be transmitted from the feces of an infected person?


Perform normal hand washing and disinfection with alcohol-based hand rub as before.

If a toilet is used by a person having or suspected of having the novel coronavirus infection or a person who has been in close contact with such people, and the toilet has been soiled by acute diarrhea, we recommend by wiping with sodium hypochlorite (1000 ppm) or disinfecting ethanol.

Q9  Can you get infected from packages such as letters and imported foods from places where there has been an infected person (domestic, outside Japan)?


At present, there is no epidemiological information that anyone has been infected from contact with goods shipped from China or other places where the virus has been found. WHO also generally states that coronaviruses cannot survive for long periods of time on things like letters and packages.


【National Institute of Health Sciences】

Q10 Can I catch the novel coronavirus through food?  (UPDATED)


The main routes of transmission of the novel coronavirus infection are thought to be droplet infection and contact infection. As of April 1, 2020, there have been no reported cases of new coronavirus infections through food (including vegetables and fruits eaten raw and fresh seafood).  However, when serving food and meals, it is necessary to pay attention to contact infection because there is a possibility of contact with an unspecified number of people (*). The same applies to tableware, so please take extra care including clean handling.

* Contact infection is one of the main routes of transmission of new coronavirus infections.

The coronavirus has been found to be susceptible to heat (more than 70 degrees Celsius for a certain period of time) and alcohol (more than 70%, which applies to alcohol-based hand rub sold in shops).


There is no need to worry if general hygiene management rules for food handling and the prevention of food poisoning are followed.  These include hand washing, disinfection of fingers with alcohol-based hand disinfectant, cough etiquette, etc. at each stage of manufacturing, distribution, cooking, sales, setting tables and so on. 


The general guidance from the WHO is to “Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.”

Q11  How many people have been discharged from hospitals, and what kind of treatment did they receive? (UPDATED)


Of the cases which occurred in Japan and those who returned from China on the charter planes:

  • 272 of the 1,816 people who had symptoms and were hospitalized; 

  • 38 out of the 127 who showed no symptoms but tested positive for the virus – [note from translator – the figures on the Japanese source page look erroneous – suggest check English Ministry page at https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/bunya/newpage_00032.html];

  • 619 of the 712 people who left the cruise ship and who tested positive.

Therefore over 1,120 people have been discharged (as of 12:00 on April 2).


Antivirals that work against the new coronavirus itself have not yet been established, but those who have been discharged received treatment (palliative treatment) aimed at relieving symptoms such as fever and cough caused by the virus. Specifically, antipyretics and antitussives are administered, and infusions are performed. If pneumonia occurs, oxygen or artificial respiration may be given.

Q12   When treatment for the novel coronavirus has been given, in what circumstances it is judged to be cured?  Also, why are people being cured when there is no remedy for the novel coronavirus?


We determine that the person is "cured" when respiratory symptoms such as fever and cough have disappeared and the virus is not detected from the nasal cavity or trachea.


Antiviral drugs that are effective against the novel coronavirus itself have not yet been developed, and for the purpose of alleviating symptoms such as fever and cough caused by the virus increasing in the upper respiratory tract and lungs, antipyretics (to reduce fever), cough suppressants and infusions are given.  By giving symptomatic treatment which supports the person’s general condition, it is thought that antibodies against the virus are produced which can eliminate the virus and lead to cure.