Coronavirus 101: The Basics
The coronavirus, which is now officially called Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), has received a lot of attention. Since the outbreak began in China, late in 2019, the disease and efforts to understand and manage it have made headlines around the world. The situation has been changing rapidly, but the body of knowledge about COVID-19 is growing.1
Unfortunately, not all information being distributed is accurate. Axios reported “The spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak is being matched, or even outrun, by the spread on social media of both unintentional misinformation about it and vociferous campaigns of malicious disinformation, experts tell Axios.”2
Here are the United States Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) answers to some basic questions about the virus:
What is a coronavirus? The term describes a broad category of viruses that typically circulate among animals. On rare occasions, coronaviruses infect people and spread from person to person. In 2002, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) infected humans as well as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012.1, 3
What is COVID-19? It’s classified as a ‘novel coronavirus’ because it is a type of disease which has not been identified before.1
What are the symptoms? Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of an upper respiratory infection. They may appear within two to 14 days of exposure and range from mild to severe. According to the CDC, people with the virus may experience:4
- Shortness of breath
How can you protect yourself? There is not a vaccine for COVID-19 yet. However, you can protect yourself much the same way you would protect yourself from other respiratory diseases. The CDCrecommends:5
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Staying home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve – not your hands – when you cough or sneeze.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Washing your hands frequently.
Incidences of the virus in the United States remain low, although that may change. If you develop symptoms, stay calm, stay home, and contact your medical professional.5