Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Many of them infect animals, but some coronaviruses from animals can evolve (change) into a new human coronavirus that can spread from person-to-person. This is what happened with the current novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Coronavirus disease is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
How are coronaviruses spread?
Like other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza (flu), human coronaviruses most commonly spread to others from an infected person who has symptoms through:
Droplets produced through coughing and sneezing
Close personal contact, such as caring for an infected person
Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is new, and we are learning more each day about how easily it spreads and how long it takes for people to become sick.
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)?
Reported illnesses have ranged from people with mild symptoms to people becoming severely ill, requiring admission to the hospital, and dying.
Shortness of breath/ Difficulty breathing
Muscle or Body aches (unrelated to exercise)
New loss of taste or smell
If you have traveled from mainland China and develop any of these symptoms within 14 days of your return, you should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms and your recent travel.
What can I do to protect myself and others from respiratory infections like COVID-19?
As with other respiratory illnesses, there are steps that everyone can take daily to reduce the risk of getting sick or infecting others with circulating viruses.
Stay home when you are sick.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
Facemasks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and people who are sick.
Get a flu shot to prevent influenza if you have not done so this season.
To learn more about symptoms and what to do if you are sick, click here.
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