Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus.
The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, also known as COVID-19, that can spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. This strain is believed to have emerged from an animal source and was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) are also types of Coronaviruses, but this current version of the virus is a different strain. It’s unknown at this point if the new virus is as severe or as contagious as SARS.
How does the Coronavirus spread?
The virus spreads from person to person; the main way it is thought to spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet) through respiratory droplets produced when a sick person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that someone can get Coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. (It’s unknown how long the virus can survive on surfaces outside of the body.)
How long does it take for someone to get sick?
The period of time in which it takes a person being infected with the virus to when they start showing symptoms is estimated to be from 1-14 days, and most commonly around five days, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?
Those infected have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. The illness can also cause body aches, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea. Patients with severe complications from the virus have had pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure, and death. However, it is important to note that there have been some people who’ve tested positive for the virus but haven’t experienced any symptoms or signs of illness, a condition which is defined as being asymptomatic.
How do you prevent getting Coronavirus?
The simplest way to protect yourself from getting the virus is to wash your hands — effectively and properly. Wet them with clean water, then apply soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds, before rinsing and drying with a clean towel. It’s also recommended that you wash hands with soap and water before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and before and after caring for a sick friend or a family member. Lastly, if you’re somewhere where soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. A hand sanitizer shortage has occurred as a result of the virus, leading some to sell it for exorbitant amounts on eBay (the website has since banned the sale of face masks and hand sanitizer) or make their own with vodka (this may not be effective considering most liquor is usually 40% alcohol).