What is the 2019 novel coronavirus, and how do I find out more information?
The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
For the latest updates and information on COVID-19, please consult the following sites:
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization
- California Department of Public Health
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms may include fever, cough and sore throat. In some patients, these symptoms can worsen into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Persons who are elderly, immunocompromised, or if have other comorbidities, such as heart disease, liver disease, are at higher risk of developing severe pneumonia and dying from the disease.
Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or up to 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.
How does the coronavirus spread?
Most often COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person via close contacts (about six feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory illnesses spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. It is not yet known how long the new coronavirus can survive on surfaces, but based on data from other coronaviruses, such as SARS, it may be for up to two days at room temperatures.
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.
Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.