Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause diseases such as the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In 2019, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of disease outbreaks originating in China.
This virus is now known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease it causes is called Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared this COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic.
Public health organizations, including the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and (WHO), are monitoring the pandemic and posting updates on their websites. These groups have also published recommendations to prevent and treat this disease.
The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after being exposed, and may include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Other symptoms can be the following:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Some people lose their sense of smell or taste.
The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can be very mild to serious. Some people do not have any symptoms. People who are elderly or who have certain chronic conditions, such as heart or lung disease, or diabetes, or who have a compromised immune system, may be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill. This is similar to what is seen with other respiratory diseases, such as influenza.
When to see the doctor
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, immediately contact your doctor or clinic for advice. Before going to the appointment, talk to your healthcare team about your symptoms and possible exposure to the virus.
If you have emergency signs and symptoms of COVID-19, such as trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, confusion, or your face or lips turn blue, seek medical help immediately.
If you have airway symptoms but are not and have not been in an area with the continued spread of the virus in the community, contact your doctor or clinic for advice. Tell your doctor if you have other chronic health conditions, such as heart or lung disease. As the pandemic progresses, it is important to ensure that there is medical care for those who need it most.
Infection with the new coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2), causes coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19 ).
It is unclear exactly how contagious the new coronavirus is. The data shows that it is spread from person to person among those who are in close contact (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters). It is transmitted by respiratory droplets that are released when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes.
It can also spread when a person touches a surface that has the virus and then touches his mouth, nose, or eyes.
COVID-19 risk factors appear to include:
- Travel to or recently resided in an area where there is persistent spread in the COVID-19 community, as determined by (CDC) or (WHO)
- Close contact with someone who has COVID-19, for example, when a family member or healthcare worker cares for an infected person
Although most people with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms, the disease can cause serious medical complications and, in some people, death. The elderly or people with chronic conditions are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19
Some of the complications can be:
- Pneumonia in both lungs
- Multiple organ failure
Even if there are no vaccines to prevent infection with the new coronavirus, you can take steps to reduce your risk of infection. (WHO) and (CDC) recommends taking these precautions to avoid COVID-19 :
- Avoid crowded events and crowded gatherings.
- Avoid close contact (less than 6 feet or 2 meters) with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
- Maintain physical distance from yourself and others if COVID-19 is spreading in your community, especially if you are at higher risk for serious illness.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze. Discard the used disposable tissue.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid sharing plates, glasses, bedding, and other household objects if you are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Stay home and not go to work, school, or public places if you are sick, unless for medical attention. Avoid taking public transportation if you are sick.
(CDC) do not recommend that healthy people wear a mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19 Wear a mask only if told to do so by a healthcare provider.
If you have a chronic condition and may be at higher risk for serious illness, talk to your doctor about other ways to protect yourself.
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