What is COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)?
COVID-19 is the new name for 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illnesses similar to the common cold. Others can cause more serious illnesses, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China. It is called a “novel” virus because it has never been detected before this outbreak.
What are COVID-19 symptoms?
Patients have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with:
- Shortness of Breath
How do you get a COVID-19 infection?
In order to be infected with the virus, you need to be exposed to it. Public health experts are still confirming how this new coronavirus spreads.
Other coronaviruses, like the common cold, SARS and MERS, spread person-to-person by:
- Respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes – this is also how flu spreads.
- Touching objects or surfaces (such as door knobs or tables) that has the virus on it from the respiratory droplets mentioned above and then touching your own mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes.
- Close personal contact (e.g., by touching or shaking hands) with a person who is infectious.
Who is at risk for catching this new virus?
At this time, the virus is not spreading in the US, so the likelihood of getting sick from this virus in the US is low, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Travelers to areas with outbreaks are at risk for catching COVID-19. Right now, US residents who have traveled to Wuhan and other parts of China are at greatest risk of coming in contact with people infected with COVID-19.
This is a rapidly changing situation.
- Get the most up-to-date travel guidance from CDC.
- Visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html to keep up-to-date.
What if I have been to Wuhan or other parts of China recently?
Asymptomatic travelers who have recently visited outbreak affected areas should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after returning.
If you feel sick with fever, develop a cough or have shortness of breath (i.e., difficulty breathing), you should:
- Seek medical care right away. If you can, please call your doctor or emergency room before seeking care and tell them about your travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Not travel while sick.
How can you protect yourself and your family?
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people as much as possible.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. This site’s content is reviewed daily and will be updated as appropriate.
Last Reviewed and Updated Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, 3:11 pm