Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is primarily a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a “novel” or new coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Other coronaviruses cause mild disease like the common cold.
The virus that causes COVID-19 may be passed from an infected person in several ways, including:
- Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
Most patients with COVID-19 may have no or mild symptoms. Some may develop:
- shortness of breath
If you have not recently travelled to an area with confirmed COVID-19 infections, your risk of infection is extremely low. Should you develop symptoms, it is more likely you have the common cold or Influenza (flu) and you should contact your medical provider for additional guidance.
The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus. These are exactly the same precautions you would take to avoid coming down with a cold or the flu.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to the virus.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 infection receive supportive treatment including fluids to prevent dehydration, medicines to decrease fever or muscle aches, and sometimes oxygen therapy.