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About COVID 19
A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous.
But in early 2020, following a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type of coronavirus. Officials named this new virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This is the virus that causes COVID-19.
What Is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a disease that can cause what doctors call a respiratory tract infection. It can affect your upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs).
The COVID-19 outbreak quickly spread around the world. It spreads the same way other coronaviruses do, mainly through person-to-person contact. Infections range from mild to serious.
Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but we don’t know where they come from. They get their name from their crown-like shape.
Almost everyone gets a coronavirus infection at least once in their life, most likely as a young child. In the United States, regular coronaviruses are more common in the fall and winter, but anyone can come down with a coronavirus infection at any time.
The symptoms of most coronaviruses are similar to any other upper respiratory infection, including runny nose, coughing, sore throat, and sometimes a fever. In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus. You treat this kind of coronavirus infection the same way you treat a cold.
The COVID-19 virus affects different people in different ways. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment. People who have underlying medical conditions and those over 60 years old have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death.
Common symptoms include:
- dry cough.
Other symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- aches and pains
- sore throat
- and very few people will report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.
People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.
People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention.
Doctors aren’t sure. Coronaviruses can affect animals and people. They think it might have started in animals and spread to people.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus, mainly spreads from person to person.
Most of the time it spreads when a sick person coughs or sneezes. They can spray droplets as far as 6 feet away. If you breathe them in or swallow them, the virus can get into your body. Some people who have the virus don’t have symptoms, but they can still spread the virus.
You can also get the virus from touching a surface or object the virus is on, then touching your mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes. Most viruses can live for several hours on a surface that they land on.
If you’re in an area where it’s spreading, take these steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based sanitizer. This kills viruses on your hands.
- Practice social distancing. Because you can have and spread the virus without knowing it, you should stay home as much as possible. If you do have to go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Don’t touch your face. Coronaviruses can live on surfaces you touch for several hours. If they get on your hands and you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, they can get into your body.
There’s no need to wear a face mask unless your doctor tells you to. You will need one if you’ve been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or have COVID-19 or if you’re a health care worker or caring for someone who has it.
There’s no specific treatment for COVID-19. People who get a mild case need care to ease their symptoms, like rest, fluids, and fever control. Take over-the-counter medicine for a sore throat, body aches, and fever. But don’t give aspirin to children or teens younger than 19. Although there’s no direct evidence that ibuprofen is harmful, some experts say not to use it to treat COVID-19 because it can make symptoms worse. You can use acetaminophen instead. Those with severe symptoms need to be cared for in the hospital.
If you think you might have been exposed:
- If you don’t feel well, stay home. Even if you have mild symptoms like a headache and runny nose, stay in until you’re better. This lets doctors focus on people who are more seriously ill and protects health care workers and people you might meet along the way. You might hear this called self-quarantine.
- Call the doctor if you have a fever, cough, and trouble breathing . You need to get medical help as soon as possible. Calling ahead (rather than showing up) will let the doctor direct you to the proper place, which may not be your doctor’s office. If you don’t have a regular doctor, call your local board of health. They can tell you where to go for testing and treatment.
- Follow your doctor’s advice and keep up with the news on COVID-19. Between your doctor and health care authorities, you’ll get the care you need and information on how to prevent the virus from spreading.