My parents are constantly telling me to take my hands away from my face, why are they so insistent on this now?

If you spend lots of time together, often in a small apartment, this quickly gets annoying, on both yours and your parents’ behalf. There is a good reason for your parents being so stubborn all of a sudden. Every time you touch your face, viruses can get from your hands to your nose, mouth, or eyes. "You can get these unseeable viruses, but you can also remove them by washing your hands thoroughly," says Ivo Steinmetz, who is very concerned with cleanliness at the Medical University of Graz in Austria. Because handwashing is not possible everywhere all the time, it is important now to keep your fingers away from your face, so you stay healthy.

But adults also pick their nose, right?

UGHHH! We don’t think so. Most of the time, anyway. But you are correct, it is not just the children. But now that you know how important it is that your fingers don’t coast around your face, especially not in your nose, please tell the adults to use a handkerchief if you catch them.

But I have to blow my nose, right?

Sure, even with an expert’s permission, "When you have a runny or stuffy nose, use a tissue," says our Graz professor Steinmetz. But please only use it once and then throw it into the wastebasket. Don’t forget to wash your hands!

I always read and hear that the bats are to blame for the fact that we now have Corona, is that correct?

Yes, sort of, but not exactly, says expert Monika Redlberger-Fritz. "You can find many different types of viruses in bats," explains the specialist and head of the virus isolation laboratory at the Center for Virology at the Medical University of Vienna (Austria). The bats don’t get sick from these viruses either, they only carry them within themselves. And here comes the problem: they can transmit these viruses to other living things. "The current coronavirus was passed on to pangolin," says Redlberger-Fritz. Then it was man’s turn.

Does someone have to eat these animals, or how does that work?

You have to come into very close contact with these animals in order to get infected, says the doctor. And that means the slaughtering of animals or eating can infect you. Pangolins are usually not pets, and they are also under protection as they are threatened with extinction. You shouldn’t actually be handling these animals. The problem is that pangolins are used in traditional Chinese medicine, and parts of them are processed into substances used for this practice. Therefore, wild pangolins are caught by poachers and then illegally sold at animal markets in China. Such a wildlife market is said to be the cause of the outbreak of the coronavirus, according to Redlberger-Fritz.

Are there other animals that also transmit diseases to humans?

The expert says yes. In 2003, another SARS-Coronavirus was transmitted from the mongoose to humans, in 2015 the MERS-Coronavirus from camels to humans, and the flu pandemics of 1919, 1958, and 1968 were all caused by wild birds. So are all animals dangerous? "We don’t have to be afraid of our dogs and cats now," says the doctor. As a rule, the viruses always have to mutate so that they can make people sick and, above all, can be transmitted from person to person. (Peter Mayr, Karin Riss, Translation: Emily York, 2020-03-25)