Research for infection protection

What is SARS-CoV-2?

The first illnesses due to the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus were reported in Wuhan (China) in December 2019. The virus was first described in January 2020 and has been officially called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) since February 2020. SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the Coronaviridae family. Coronaviruses are crown-shaped enveloped viruses that can affect both humans and animals. They are widespread throughout the world and are mainly spread by droplet and contact infection.

In humans, they usually cause relatively mild respiratory infections such as common colds and bronchitis or gastrointestinal tract infections, but they can also lead to serious illnesses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The clinical picture caused by SARS-CoV-2 has been termed COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), as per the World Health Organization (WHO).

Other outbreaks with coronaviruses

The novel coronavirus is genetically closely related to the known SARS-CoV, which was identified in 2002, caused atypical pneumonia and gave rise to the 2002/2003 SARS pandemic. Another member of the coronavirus family, which first emerged in 2012, is termed MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) and continues to lead to new cases of pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Further information

You can find further information about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in our "Fact sheet – novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2", which you can download as a PDF file here.

In addition, you can find information about all relevant disease pathogens in our pathogen database.

What are the symptoms?

The clinical picture caused by SARS-CoV-2 has been termed COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), as per the World Health Organization (WHO). The COVID-19 disease progression is non-specific, diverse and extremely variable (1). A SARS-CoV-2 infection may cause no symptoms whatsoever, but it can also be linked to respiratory symptoms, a cough or flu-like symptoms respectively, high temperature, and – in severe cases – pneumonia. In rare cases, particularly in the elderly or people with underlying medical conditions, it can also be fatal.

No "typical" disease progression

According to the Robert Koch Institute, it is not possible to describe a "typical" disease progression (1). Moreover, the data on the symptoms and disease progression of the cases that have occurred in Germany are still limited. The most commonly occurring symptoms in Germany are: a cough (58%), a high temperature (43%) and a cold (38%) (as at 06.03.2020). Other symptoms include shortness of breath, muscle and joint aches, a sore throat, headaches, nausea/vomiting, nasal congestion and diarrhea.

These are the most common COVID-19 symptoms in Germany (1):

  • Cough (58%)
  • High temperature (43%)
  • Cold (38%)

Disease progression – the China experience (1)

  • mild/moderate: 80%*
    (patients with or without pneumonia, without shortness of breath, with a blood oxygen saturation above 93% and without (CT-diagnosed) lung infiltrates affecting more than half of the lung)
  • severe/not life-threatening: 14%
    (patients with shortness of breath, oxygen saturation below 94%, or lung infiltrates in more than half of the lung)
  • critical/life-threatening: 6%
    (patients with lung failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure)

*) Observations outside China indicate that the proportion of mild forms is higher than 80%.


1) Robert Koch-Institut. SARS-CoV-2 Steckbrief zur Coronavirus-Krankheit-2019 (COVID-19) (Stand: 13.3.2020)

How to protect yourself (and others)

There is as yet no vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 and no specific treatment for COVID-19. Prevention is the order of the day. Steps to prevent infection include hygiene measures (consistent practising of basic hygiene, including hand hygiene), modified social behavior (social distancing) and the isolation (quarantine) of those who are or might be infected.

Previous experience with SARS-CoV-2 shows that transmission occurs particularly during close, unprotected contact between people (e.g. in domestic or medical/nursing environments) (1). As far as is known at present, transmission takes place mainly via respiratory secretions (droplets and aerosols, such as when someone coughs or sneezes). Indirect transmission via contaminated hands or surfaces is also possible (1). Products with proven efficacy against enveloped viruses should be used as disinfectants ("virucidal against enveloped viruses", “limited spectrum of virucidal activity”and "virucidal" activity) (1).

This is what you can do to protect yourself and others:


  • wash or disinfect your hands thoroughly
  • do not touch your eyes or mouth with unclean hands
  • keep your distance from others (social distancing)
  • avoid shaking hands
  • practise sneezing and coughing etiquette
    (cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow)
  • throw used paper tissues into enclosed bins

If you have a high temperature, a cough, or suspect you are infected:

  • stay at home, avoid social contact (self-isolation/quarantine at home)
  • call your general practitioner
  • when in contact with others, wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose or a surgical mask (to protect the people around you)

For occupational activities involving possible contact with germs:

Use personal protective equipment (PPE). This consists of an apron, disposable gloves, goggles and a tightly fitting respirator mask (an FFP mask with a protection rating of at least "FFP 2"; during activities involving patients with a severe cough or activities that can create droplet aerosols, an FFP 3 mask) (2).

For disinfection/cleaning:

Use disinfectants with "virucidal against enveloped viruses" activity. Products with an extended antiviral spectrum ("limited spectrum of virucidal activity" or "virucidal" activity) can also be used (1).

Further information

You can find further information about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in our "Fact sheet – novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2", which you can download as a PDF file here.

How to "Use masks hygienically and safely in our daily life" can be found in our information graphic, which you can also download as a PDF file.

30 sec. hand disinfection

From Wuhan to the world

How the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is spreading

Interactive maps by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (in the state of Maryland) provide an up-to-date overview of the global infection situation in "real time". Case numbers can be viewed down to regional level. The maps are based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, as well as the Chinese health authority.

See for yourself: Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)



Which products can be used for disinfection?

Like all coronaviruses (including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV) the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus and can be inactivated by using disinfectants claiming at least a virucidal activity against enveloped viruses. HARTMANN disinfectants for hands (Sterillium® products), surfaces (Bacillol® products, Kohrsolin® products, Mikrobac® products, Dismozon® products) and instruments (Bomix® plus, Korsolex® products), meet these requirements and can be used.

Generally, all products with a virucidal activity against enveloped viruses, limited spectrum of virucidal activity and virucidal activity can be used. The recommended contact times must be adhered to due to the different purposes.

You can find more information on BODE disinfectants here.


How often do I have to disinfect my hands to protect myself from infection with SARS-CoV-2?

We generally recommend a risk based and event-related hand hygiene, e.g. after contact with infected individuals, or after contact with potentially contaminated surfaces. Keep in mind that you need an appropriate amount of disinfectant solution to moisten your hands completely for 30 seconds and do not forget your fingertips and thumbs.

WHO recommends the use of alcohol-based hand disinfectants or regular and thorough hand washing, also in relation to the outbreak of the coronavirus. In addition, you should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and protect against infection by coughing and sneezing into the crook of your arm (coughing and sneezing etiquette) as well as keeping your distance from infected individuals.

Also read:

The 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene:

Hand disinfection at home:


Can expired containers still be used (opened and unopened) after the stated expiry date?

Products may only be used until the printed expiry date.
Please also observe the respective shelf life after opening a product at:


Can I disinfect my children's hands?

Our hand disinfectants have not been tested on children's skin. Please contact your doctor or pharmacist for an individual assessment in this regard.