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What is COVID-19?

September 8, 2020

Coronavirus disease 2019, or “COVID-19,” is an infection caused by a specific virus called SARS-CoV-2. It first appeared in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China. People with COVID-19 can have fever, cough, and trouble breathing. Problems with breathing happen when the infection affects the lungs and causes pneumonia.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms usually start a few days after a person is infected with the virus. But in some people, it can take even longer for symptoms to appear.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling tired
  • Muscle aches
  • Most people have mild symptoms. Some people have no symptoms at all. But in other people, COVID-19 can lead to serious problems like pneumonia, not getting enough oxygen or even death. This is more common in people who are older or have other health problems.

Should I see a doctor or nurse?

If you have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing and might have been exposed to COVID-19, call your doctor or nurse. You might have been exposed if either of the following happened within the last 14 days:

You lived in or travelled to an area where lots of people have the virus

You had close contact with a person who has the virus – Which generally means being within about 6 feet of the person.

Will I need tests?

Yes. If your doctor or nurse suspects you have COVID-19, they test samples of blood or fluid taken from inside your nose and mouth. These tests can all show if you have COVID-19 or another infection. In recent days a new blood quick test will be on the market. These tests will detect the ill patients in 15 minutes.

Your doctor might also order a chest X-ray or lung CT to check your lungs.

How is COVID-19 treated?

Most people with COVID-19 have only mild illness and can rest at home until they get better. If you have a more severe illness, you might need to stay in the hospital, possibly in the intensive care unit. There is no specific treatment for the infection. Still, the doctors and nurses in the hospital can monitor and support your breathing and other body functions and make you as comfortable as possible.

Can COVID-19 be prevented?

There are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often. The table has instructions on how to wash your hands to prevent spreading illness.
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands.
  • Try to stay away from people who have any symptoms of the infection.
  • Some experts recommend avoiding travel to certain countries where there are a lot of cases of COVID-19.
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