About Covid-19

The virus can cause pneumonia-like symptoms. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. If people are admitted to hospital, they may get support for their lungs and other organs, as well as fluids. Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died were vulnerable because of existing underlying health conditions.

The name Covid-19 was announced on 11 February 2020 by the World Health Organization. The director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease. Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising.”(1)


General Tips

For general prevention, the CDC recommends the following preventive measures to increase community resilience and readiness for response to an outbreak:

  • Voluntary home isolation: Stay home when you are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus.
  • Respiratory etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can.
  • Hand hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60–95% alcohol.
  • Environmental health action: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects. (2)


What do do if you have a stroke during this pandemic

Symptoms of a stroke

All too often the symptoms of stroke are not recognised and diagnosis and treatment are delayed. This reduces recovery outcomes, which in many cases is a matter of life and death.

The immediate symptoms of stroke might include sudden numbness; weakness or paralysis of the arm and/or leg on one side of the body ; sudden difficulty in speaking or understanding speech; impaired swallowing, face paralysis on one side; dizziness; confusion; unsteadiness; severe headache; sudden blurring or loss of vision and loss of consciousness.

What to do

It is now accepted that a more urgent response to stroke will save lives and reduce long term disability.

If you suspect you are having a stroke please immediately call an ambulance who will transfer you to a stroke unit or other specialized facility/institution in your country, which will offer you immediate clinical assessment, scans and clot busting drugs throughout the first 3-4.5 hour period.

Often a person having a stroke is not able to call an ambulance, therefore, his/her relatives and friends should be the ones to do it.

In the longer term stroke survivors may have one of the following symptoms in any combination; weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, speech and language difficulties, difficulties in perception and cognition, fatigue, chronic pain, spasticity, emotional changes and mood swings.


Covid-19 resource hub

Resources pages from SAFE member countries 

Italy: Rehabilitation for stroke patients in Italy

UK: The Stroke Association UK (information that apply for the UK)

Portugal: Portugal AVC National Patient Survey on stroke and Covid-19 (Portuguese)


Other organisations resources:

European Academy of Neurology – Stroke care at the time of Covid-19 outbreak

The European Centre for Disease Protection and Control (ECDC) : Download today’s data on the geographic distribution of COVID-19 cases worldwide (click here)

World Health Organization Coronavirus disease (Covid19) advice for the public

World Health Organisation Covid19 Clinical management: living guidance

European Stroke Organisation

World Stroke Organization

European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA)

European Society of Cardiology – COVID-19 and Cardiology – An interview with Dr. Bart van der Worp, President of ESO- 

The Joint Commission (USA) platform for tools and resources

Please see this video, produced by the Angels Initiative for Italy with all relevant stroke related scientific societies and A.L.I.C.E: Emergenza COVID-19 – L’Ictus non resta a casa

And the Spanish version, including also a TV moderator and soccer stars Emergencia COVID-19: El Ictus no se queda en casa 

We will be updating the list of resource pages as we get updates from other countries where SAFE has a member stroke support organisation.

(1) Source: The
(2) Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)