WHAT IS A CORONAVIRUS ?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
WHAT IS A COVID-19 ?
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus (“CO” stands for corona; “VI” for virus; “19” the year in which it appeared). This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
IS THE SOURCE OF THE CORONAVIRUS CAUSING COVID-19 KNOWN ?
Currently, the source of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus (CoV) causing COVID-19 is unknown. All available evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a natural animal origin and is not a constructed virus. SARS-CoV-2 virus most probably has its ecological reservoir in bats. SARS-CoV-2, belongs to a group of genetically related viruses, which also include SARS-CoV and a number of other CoVs isolated from bats populations. MERS-CoV also belongs to this group, but is less closely related.
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 ?
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.
CAN THE VIRUS THAT CAUSES COVID-19 BE TRANSMITTED THROUGH THE AIR ?
Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. See previous answer on “How does COVID-19 spread?”
CAN COVID-19 BE CAUGHT FROM A PERSON WHO HAS NO SYMPTOMS ?
The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.
CAN I CATCH COVID-19 FROM THE FECES OF SOMEONE WITH THE DISEASE ?
The risk of catching COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in feces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings. Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating.
WHO IS AT RISK OF DEVELOPING SEVERE ILLNESS ?
While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
IS THERE A VACCINE, DRUG OR TREATMENT FOR COVID-19 ?
Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care. Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF AND PREVENT THE SPREAD OF DISEASE?
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions: Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol based hand rub or wash them with soap and water, because these actions kill viruses that may be on your hands. Keep a safe distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people. The virus is contained in saliva droplets and can be transmitted by breathing at close range, particularly when they cough, sneeze or have a fever. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, because hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick. Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.Avoid shaking hands and hugging, for the reasons mentioned above. Stay at home as much as possible, following the rules indicated by the authorities. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. This will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections. All the measures included in the present leaflet follow what established by the world health organization (WHO)
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