The coronavirus, widely referred to as COVID-19, is a disease that surfaced in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2, and belongs to the family of coronaviruses, several of which cause the common cold.
While COVID-19 is not exclusively a respiratory disease, the most common symptoms are respiratory in nature, including dry cough, congestion, and loss of taste or smell.1 But other reported symptoms are more systemic, ranging from fever and fatigue to muscle aches and gastrointestinal issues.
COVID-19 is primarily transmitted between people who are in close contact with one another. It spreads via respiratory droplets emitted when someone coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. Because of the way COVID-19 spreads, wearing a mask, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing are currently the best methods to prevent infection.
The symptoms of COVID-19 appear two to 14 days after exposure. They may include:
Repeated shaking with chills
Loss of sense of smell or taste
It appears that while the infection is mild in some people, it can cause a severe respiratory (lung) illness similar to SARS and may result in death. It may also cause complications like pneumonia or bronchitis. These complications are more common in babies and the elderly, as well as people with a suppressed immune system or an underlying heart or lung disease.
The World Health Organization has decided COVID-19 is globally widespread enough to be considered a pandemic. This is because the virus is new, so people's immune systems are not prepared to fight it, thus permitting the virus to spread rapidly from person to person.
As COVID-19 is still a new virus, understanding its transmission is based on similar coronaviruses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person. You’re most at risk:
If you’re in close contact (within about six feet) with an infected person
If you’re exposed to respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
If a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touches their own mouth, nose, and possibly eyes, they may contract COVID-19, but the CDC says it’s not the main way the virus spreads.
Based on how COVID-19 affected those in China, it seems the following groups have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if contracting the virus:1
People with lung disease
People with asthma
People with heart disease
People with diabetes
People who are immunocompromised (those undergoing cancer treatment, those with immune deficiencies, those with HIV, etc.)
People with chronic kidney disease
People with liver disease
People who are severely obese (BMI of 40 or higher)
People in these groups—or anyone with a chronic medical condition—should take extra precautions to avoid those who are sick, avoid non-essential travel, and avoid crowds. Stay home as much as possible if your area is experiencing community spread, and seek medical attention at the earliest symptoms.
A laboratory test produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently being used for COVID-19 testing in the United States. This test requires a swab from the patient's nose or throat. Because of a shortage of tests, a Additionally, an X-ray or CT scan may help rule out other causes of illness, or help track disease progression.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends wearing a mask over your nose and mouth when you are around other people.4 Besides this, can reduce your risk of contracting human coronavirus by doing what you would do to protect yourself from getting the flu or common cold:
Scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (try singing the Happy Birthday song twice for proper timing)
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Avoid being around people who are sick
Using a regular household detergent and water, clean household and work surfaces and objects frequently, especially ones that are touched a lot, such as doorknobs, remote controls, and tables.
If you are sick, protect others by staying home from work or school. If you live with others, choose and clean a room and bathroom that only you use (if possible).
If you do cough or sneeze, be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, and then wash your hands after discarding the tissue. Alternatively, if you do not have a tissue available, sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow.