COVID-19 also known as coronavirus is an infectious disease discovered after an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Since the initial outbreak, this coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, has spread to more than 100 countries around the world and has affected many thousands of people.
The disease is more likely to cause symptoms in older adults and those with underlying health conditions, such as chronic heart or lung conditions. Most people who develop symptoms of COVID-19 experience:
- shortness of breath
Not everyone with a SARS-CoV-2 infection will feel ill. Some people may even contract the virus and not develop symptoms. When there are symptoms, they’re usually mild and tend to come on slowly.
What to do if you noticed any of the above symptoms
If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, follow this protocol:
- Gauge how sick you are. Ask yourself how likely it is that you came into contact with the coronavirus. If you live in a region that has had an outbreak, or if you’ve recently travelled abroad, you may be at an increased risk of exposure.
- Call your doctor. If you have mild symptoms, call your doctor. To reduce transmission of the virus, many clinics are encouraging people to call or use live chat instead of coming into a clinic. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and work with local health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine if you need to be tested.
- Stay home. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or another type of viral infection, stay home and get plenty of rest. Be sure to stay away from other people and avoid sharing items like drinking glasses, utensils, keyboards, and phones.
When do you need medical care?
About 80 percent of people recover from COVID-19 without needing hospitalization or special treatment.
If you’re young and healthy with only mild symptoms, your doctor will likely advise you to isolate yourself at home and to limit contact with others in your household. You’ll likely be advised to rest, stay well hydrated, and to closely monitor your symptoms.
If you’re an older adult, have any underlying health conditions, or a compromised immune system, be sure to contact your doctor as soon as you notice any symptoms. Your doctor will advise you on the best course of action.
If your symptoms worsen with home care, it’s important to get prompt medical care. Call your local hospital, clinic, or urgent care to let them know you’ll be coming in, and wear a face mask once you leave your home. You can also call 911 for immediate medical attention.
How to avoid infection from the coronavirus
The novel coronavirus is primarily transmitted from person to person. At this point, the best way to prevent getting infected is to avoid being around people who have been exposed to the virus.
Additionally, according to the CDC, you can take the following precautions to lower your risk of infection:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if the soap isn’t available.
- Avoid touching your face unless you’ve recently washed your hands.
- Stay clear of people who are coughing and sneezing. The CDC recommends standing at least 6 feet away from anyone who appears to be sick.
- Avoid crowded areas as much as possible.
Older adults are at the highest risk of infection and may want to take extra precautions to avoid coming into contact with the virus.
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