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. (Source: WHO)
The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Can you contract the coronavirus disease by touching a surface?
People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Can the coronavirus disease spread through air?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors or surfaces. You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within 1 metre of a person who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.
How long does the coronavirus last on surfaces?
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. So far 9 days is the longest it has been reported to survive on plastic surfaces.
Who is most at risk for the coronavirus disease?
People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.
Can babies get the coronavirus disease?
We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children.
What is the incubation period of the coronavirus disease?
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.
What should you do if you think you have the coronavirus disease?
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Is the coronavirus disease the same as SARS?
No. The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that caused the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related to each other genetically, but the diseases they cause are quite different.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus disease?
People may be sick with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
More rarely, the disease can be serious and even fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.
People may experience:
difficulty breathing (severe cases)
Is coughing a symptom of the coronavirus disease?
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.
What happens when you get the coronavirus disease?
People with COVID-19 generally develop signs and symptoms, including mild respiratory symptoms and fever, on an average of 5-6 days after infection (mean incubation period 5-6 days, range 1-14 days). Most people infected with COVID-19 virus have mild disease and recover.
Is there a vaccine for the coronavirus disease?
No. When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a number of years for a new vaccine to be developed.
Can cold weather and snow prevent the coronavirus disease?
This is a myth! Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.
There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases.
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19.
Are masks effective against the coronavirus disease?
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
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