Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new coronavirus strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
How it Spreads
COVID-19 spreads from person to person, mainly through coughs and sneezes of infected people or from surfaces contaminated by coughs and sneezes of infected people. This is why it is important to stay more than 3 feet away from a person who is sick.
Common signs of COVID-19 include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Symptoms are mild for 80 percent of people, but in more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, have the greatest risk of becoming severely ill. There is no vaccine and no medications approved to treat COVID-19 at this time.
If you suspect you are infected with COVID-19, call ahead before visiting a medical facility so they can prepare. Do not go to an emergency room with mild symptoms. CDC has a factsheet with more information about what to do if you are sick with COVID-19.