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Coronavirus Q&A

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified.

What are the symptoms?

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. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

I'm Sick. What Should I Do?

Call ahead to a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact. Your healthcare professional will work with public health officials to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, follow the updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Testing Sites

If you, or a loved one, are showing symptoms of COVID-19 and would like to get tested, the following testing centers are now available. Please read the information thoroughly and make sure you know all the requirements needed to be tested. Please check below for information, organized by county, on how to get tested.

What is the source of the virus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.

How does the virus spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person to person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why the CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. There is no evidence that the virus spreads through food, however, if an infected person did not wash their hands before handling your food, you are at risk of getting coronavirus.

For how long can someone be sick?

It can vary so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention and control experts, and public health officials and involves considering specifics of each situation, including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for that patient.

Can someone who has been quarantined for coronavirus spread the illness to others?

Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time that people have developed illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. In the case of someone who has been released from COVID-19, quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.

How does the weather affect the virus?

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months, but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

What can you do to protect yourself?

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  1. 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.

  2. Maintain at least 2 meters (6 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 the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

  3. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

  4. 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 make you sick.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority, or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

    Why? National and local authorities will have the most up-to-date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are the best place to advise you on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

  8. Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, 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 highly-populated areas.

Should I worry about COVID-19?

Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care.

Should I wear a mask?

Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face masks can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely. In general, it is not safe for a non-sick person to wear a mask. WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid the unnecessary waste of precious resources and misuse of masks.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses