COVID-19: Doctor Taniyel Dikranian, Afiliatys Medical Expert, answers your questions

Please find below a selection of the questions received on afiliatys’ dedicated email address aimed at answering your questions linked to the Covid-19.

source : afiliatys / Newsletter

I am a retiree. At some point, I have lost smell and taste (they are now back) and had fever (37,5°).  What are the means to determine whether I was infected by Covid-19, if I am now immune and if I am still contagious, when the lockdown is over? 

Loss of taste and smell seem to be clinical signs for a Covid19 infection. Therefore, when the blood testing will be available (for detection of antibodies), you be able to have a confirmed diagnosis.

What about the reasons for wearing a mask in all circumstances? Does is mean that it only takes for a person to come near someone else closer than 1m to have the virus spread? Even without touching or talking to him?

  1. The routes of infection are the hands and the air droplets that you share through breathing and speaking.

If you are not able to keep your distance (supermarket, bakery, …), it is useful to wear a mask outside of your house.

Should we be positive to COVID 19, we can be hospitalised in a single-bed room. Should an additional fee be charged, will I be reimbursed of the difference through my Hospi Safe cover?


I am an EU Official working at the European Parliament in Luxemburg and come in my parent’s home located in Belgium every weekend in order to take care of my elderly mother. I would like to be tested in order to avoid all contagion risk, even if I am being told that I have no symptoms except from a small dry cough (mostly when I speak). What about the asymptomatic carriers ? According to the Wort.Lu publication, these tests only have a validity of 70%. I have the opportunity to drive to one of the 3 drive-ins in Luxemburg to be tested and wait for the test result that will be sent to me by text message. I will then cross the border to head home, but is this reasonable? Am I putting my mother at risk ?

It is estimated that 40 to 50% of the infected patients are a or pauci-symptomatic.

The screening test (PCR) detects the virus when located in the nasopharyngeal are (where the sample is taken).

If you have severe symptoms (cough, fever, headache, anosmia…), there are logically more chances of detecting the virus than if you carry no symptoms.

Global efficiency of the PCR test is currently estimated at 70%, which means the in 30% of the cases, your result is negative, but you are still a carrier of the virus and hence – potentially contagious, even if the chances of contamination are probably smaller than if you were positive with strong symptoms.

As a conclusion: if the test is negative, you still have a contamination risk.  This risk also depends on whether Luxemburg-city is a very active Covid19 zone.

Best would be, of course, to quarantine yourself (15 days, ideally).


Where can we find masks in Brussels?

You can find them in some pharmacies, but you will need a medical prescription.

Afiliatys advises you against online offers, that sometimes are scams and counterfeits.

I have several bites or buttons that look like -from a sensation point- to mosquito bites, but smaller with a burning sensation and strongly itching. I have no pets and don’t think it is flea bites. My husband has no symptoms.  A medical show on tv talked about a possible Covid symptom. What do you think?  Do you think that a product such as “Cremicort” can be applied with no secondary complication?

Indeed, it seems that cutaneous manifestations linked to Covid19 infections can be observed

– non-specific condition with redness and slight swellling and prurit (itching)

– frostbite type at the extremities of the fingers

These signs seem to always appear after other Covid19 infection symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell.

If you have no such symptoms, those bites are not linked to a Covid19 infection.

Talking about « Cremicort », I am unfortunately not able to advise you further as I am not a dermatologist.

I have been diagnosed positive to Covid19 by my doctor (without having been tested). I have had no severe symptoms and am I now feeling well. I would however like to be tested in order to confirm that I am immune. When, how and where can I be tested? Furthermore, what about the duration of this immunity?

It will take some time for the tests detecting antibodies.  Health care professionals and other first-line functions (garbage collectors, shop cashiers, shippers, …) will of course be given a priority.

As it will be a simple blood test, your general practitioner will be able to take care of this for you.

Talking about the duration of your hypothetical immunity, we don’t have enough data available at the moment to provide you with an answer.

What about Mercurochrome as an alternative to hydroalcoholic gel that is sold out although it does not contain alcohol?

Mercurochrome is a brand of products and care aimed at a wide public.  The range counts a product Mercurochrome alcohol 70, understand with 70% alcohol.  For the record, a product acting effectively against the virus should contain a minimum o f 70-85% alcohol

Statistics indicate that the mortality index for persons suffering from arterial hypertension is higher than the population suffering from cancer (approx. 8,4% vs 7,9%) and higher than the general average (approx. 3%).  A publication in « Lancet » indicates that the use of medication for hypertension seems to facilitate the spread of Covid19 in the lungs with an increased risk of fatal pulmonary consequences, which would explain the negative statistics.  What is your opinion and what is your advice for the persons suffering from hypertension?

It is true that, end of February, scientists (and especially cardiologists) have been concerned about Covid19 and the use of high blood pressure medicine blocking the renin-angiotensin axis, medication called ACE inhibitors.  Our hypertension specialist colleagues have worked on the topic and offered reassurance through the recommendations of the European and American cardiology societies.  The unambiguous message is the following: NO RISK/ESTABLISHED LINK, YOU HAVE TO CONTINUE THE USE OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MEDECINE type ACE inhibitors.

My daughter is working in a Covid Unit. A friend had made visors for the whole unit, but it is becoming difficult to find plastic sheeting material that should in theory been changed between each room visit. Could you provide us with addresses where to buy these sheets (A4 200 microns)?

Unfortunately, not.  Have you tried searching the Net

Should we clean our grocery before storing it? Is there a real contamination risk? Is it enough to carefully wash hands upon return and before eating?

It is recommended to carefully wash your hands with soap (there are many tutorials on this topic), after having stored your grocery and before eating, and to remove packaging if possible

Could Afiliatys organise the supply of masks for its members with reduced mobility?

Afiliatys obviously received many requests of such type, that actually fall within the competence of public entities, pharmacies and recognised associations duly authorised for that purpose.

It is unfortunately impossible for Afiliatys to organise such a distribution, as we have no suitable infrastructure or facilitated access to those masks, nor the possibility to derogate to the lockdown rules to organise such an action.

Knowing about the unavoidable abuses linked to this kind of situation (black market, counterfeit, …), it is of general interest to strictly comply to the rules.

I am going out once a day for a walk/jogging/bike tour. I am noticing that many do not comply with the minimum distance of 1,5m. Is there a real contamination risk if a person is closer, knowing that such a crossing between persons is relatively short?

The risk is very low in theory because outside, the contact period with the droplets exhaled by the person is very short.  This being said, in general, if you are not sure to be able to comply with the security distance of 1,5m, it is advised to wear a home-made mask (cfr. tuttos on the Net), as the other masks are aimed in priority to the healthcare professionals that really need them.

I have an old 3M FFP2 mask that I used at the time for work in my house. May I still use it (grocery shopping, for example)?  Could I leave it 3 days in a closed bag to kill the virus and then being able to re-use it?


Mask efficiency against COVID-19 is not guaranteed with repeated use.[:]

We arrived in Spain by car before the lockdown and are willing to come back to Belgium after April, 20th. Will we be allowed to drive through France and come home? Will web e quarantined ? Our daughter is living with us. Will she be quarantined too ?

As far as you are concerned:

  • About driving through France and coming home: you should ask this to the Belgian Foreign Affairs.
  • The risk to which you could expose your daughter: In theory, yes. Risk is linked to the area where you stayed in Spain (Covid19 epicenter or not). How have you been feeling the past 15 days ?  Have you complied to the lockdown regulations in Spain ?  Do you believe you have been in contact with infected or ill persons or not (knowing that it is estimated that 40 to 50% of the infected persons show no symptoms)?
  • Also, due to the unavailability of screening tests, it is wise to quarantine yourself for 15 days upon your return.


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