What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in humans. They are called “corona” because of crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the common cold are examples of coronaviruses that cause illness in humans.
The new strain of coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 — was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It has since spread to every country around the world.
Where do coronaviruses come from?
Coronaviruses are often found in bats, cats, and camels. The viruses live in but don’t infect the animals. Sometimes these viruses then spread to different animal species. The viruses may change (mutate) as they transfer to other species. Eventually, the virus can jump from animal species and begin to infect humans. In the case of SARS-CoV-19, the first people infected are thought to have contracted the virus at a food market that sold meat, fish and live animals.
How do you get COVID-19?
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, enters your body through your mouth, nose or eyes (directly from the airborne droplets or from the transfer of the virus from your hands to your face). It then travels to the back of your nasal passages and mucous membrane in the back of your throat. It attaches to cells there, begins to multiply and moves into lung tissue. From there, the virus can spread to other body tissues.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. However, some will become seriously ill and require medical attention. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. Anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well-informed about the disease and how the virus spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by staying at least 1 meter apart from others, wearing a properly fitted mask, and washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently. Get vaccinated when it’s your turn and follow local guidance.
The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols. It is important to practice respiratory etiquette, for example by coughing into a flexed elbow, and to stay home and self-isolate until you recover if you feel unwell.
COVID-19 symptoms vary from person to person. In fact, some infected people don’t develop any symptoms (asymptomatic). In general, people with COVID-19 report some of the following symptoms:
- Fever or chills.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Muscle or body aches.
- New loss of taste or smell.
- Sore throat.
- Congestion or runny nose.
- Nausea or vomiting.
Additional symptoms are possible.Read More
Symptoms show up in people within two to 14 days of exposure to the virus. A person infected with the coronavirus is contagious to others for up to two days before symptoms appear, and they remain contagious to others for 10 to 20 days, depending upon their immune system and the severity of their illness.Read More
Yes, severe COVID-19 can be fatal. For updates of coronavirus infections, deaths and vaccinations worldwide, see the Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases map developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
Two COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna - have been fully approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC as highly effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.Read More
The number of reported coronavirus disease (COVID-19) deaths per 100,000 persons observed so far in 2020 is described in 15 European countries and the USA as dependent on age groups and sex. It is compared with the corresponding historic all-cause mortality per year depending on age and sex observed in these countries. Some common features exist, although substantial differences in age and sex dependency of COVID-19 mortality were noted between countries. An exponential increase with age is a good model to describe and analyze both COVID-19 and all-cause mortality above 40 years old, where almost all COVID-19 deaths occur. Moreover, age dependency is stronger for COVID-19 mortality than for all-cause mortality, and males have an excess risk compared with women, which is less pronounced in the higher age groups. Additionally, concerning calendar time, differences in the age and sex dependency between countries were noted with the common tendency that male excess risk for COVID-19 mortality was smaller in the second half of the year.Read More
Experts believe the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person. There are several ways this can happen:
Droplets or aerosols. This is the most common transmission. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, droplets or tiny particles called aerosols carry the virus into the air from their nose or mouth. Anyone who is within 6 feet of that person can breathe it into their lungs.
Airborne transmission. Research shows that the virus can live in the air for up to 3 hours. It can get into your lungs if someone who has it breathes out and you breathe that air in. Experts are divided on how often the virus spreads through the airborne route and how much it contributes to the pandemic.
Surface transmission. A less common method is when you touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on. You may touch a countertop or doorknob that’s contaminated and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes. The virus can live on surfaces like plastic and stainless steel for 2 to 3 days. To stop it, clean and disinfect all counters, knobs, and other surfaces you and your family touch several times a day.
Fecal-oral. Studies also suggest that virus particles can be found in infected people’s poop. But experts aren’t sure whether the infection can spread through contact with an infected person’s stool. If that person uses the bathroom and doesn’t wash their hands, they could infect things and people that they touch.Read More