Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
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.
HOW IS THE VIRUS TRANSMITTED?
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
COMMON SIGNS OF INFECTION
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.
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
In more severe cases, infection Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. Virus can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
HOW TO PREVENT INFECTION
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.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
- Maintain social distancing – at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
Why? 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.
- 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.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance 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.
- Avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19 in one of these areas.
SOURCE: World Health Organization