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What you need to know about coronavirus

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

What does COVID-19 mean?

COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Viruses and the diseases they cause have different names. For example, AIDS is the disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV.

As mentioned above, COVID-19 is an acronym that stands for coronavirus disease of 2019.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are common human and animal viruses. They were first discovered in domestic poultry in the 1930s. In animals, coronaviruses cause a range of respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver, and neurologic diseases.

Only seven coronaviruses are known to cause disease in humans:

  • Four human coronaviruses cause symptoms of the “common cold.” These have catchy names which you’ll be forgiven for forgetting: 229E, OC43, NL63, and HUK1.
  • Three human coronaviruses cause much more serious lung infections, also called pneumonia: SARS-CoV in 2002 (severe acute respiratory syndrome or “SARS”), MERS-CoV in 2012 (Middle East respiratory syndrome or “MERS”), and SARS-CoV-2 (the current pandemic known as COVID-19).

What is a Novel Coronavirus?

A “novel” coronavirus means that it is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. This means it is different from coronaviruses that cause the common cold, and those that caused SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How does COVID-19 spread?

1. Person-to-person spread:

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

2. Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

3. Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects:

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

How to protect yourself & others:

1. Clean your hands often:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

2. Avoid close contact:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home as much as possible – Social Distance
  • Put distance between yourself and other people.
  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus. 
  1. Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  2. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.

3. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others:

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
  1. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age.
  • anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

4. Cover coughs and sneezes:

  • If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

5. Clean and disinfect:

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

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