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.
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
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.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
Yes. It doesn’t appear anyone is naturally immune to this particular virus, and there’s no reason to believe anybody has antibodies that would normally protect them.
The lack of previous experience with this virus is part of the reason public health officials are working so hard to contain the spread of this particular coronavirus. When viruses are both new (which means the population is highly susceptible) and can easily pass from person to person (a high transmission rate), they can be very dangerous.
Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website, CDC website, PA – Department of Health website. This situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:
Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading
The CDC does recommend wearing a facemask to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Those who have COVID-19 and/or are showing symptoms should wear a mask to protect others from getting the virus. Any healthcare worker taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 also should wear a mask.
Social distancing is one of a number of “non-pharmacologic interventions” that can be used to slow spread of infections. This specifically refers to different ways of keeping people separated. Increasing the distance between desks at school or standing further away from the next person in line at the grocery store are both social distancing. So is choosing to elbow bump or wave instead of shake hands. At some point, these interventions will become more important and more formalized. This could include closing schools, canceling large events, or working from home.
You’ll have to make your own personal risk assessment about things like using public transportation, going out to dinner, getting together with your friends and even attending religious services. Some people will choose to begin social distancing now and others may not want to do so until there are confirmed cases in their area or when public health officials recommend it. Some people (like healthcare providers) will need to go to work even in the middle of a widespread outbreak and others will need to use public transportation and go to the grocery store no matter what. When the time comes, we can each do our part and stay home when we can to make it safer for everyone.
The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.