What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in humans and animals. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes an infectious disease known as coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. This virus first emerged in China in December 2019 and rapidly spread worldwide.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sore throat, unexplained loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, and headache. Symptoms can be mild at first, but may become more intense over 5 to 7 days for some people. Cough and shortness of breath may worsen if pneumonia develops and it is important to seek medical attention if these symptoms occur.
Keep in mind that it is possible to have COVID-19 while experiencing minimal symptoms or even none at all. About 80% of people infected with coronavirus recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. However, 15% of people develop severe symptoms that require hospitalization and another 5% become critically ill. People aged 65 and older and those with an underlying medical condition, such as high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness. However, anyone can become seriously ill from COVID-19. People of all ages who experience fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or chest pain should call their healthcare provider immediately.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html
World Health Organization (WHO). Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses