COVID-19 is the name given to the disease associated with the virus. It is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China

The virus can cause mild, flu-like symptoms such as:

  • fever

  • cough

  • difficulty breathing

  • muscle pain

  • tiredness

More serious cases develop severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and septic shock that can lead to death. 

Disease in children appears to be relatively rare and mild. A large study from China suggested that just over 2% of cases were under 18 years of age. Of these, fewer than 3% developed severe or critical disease.

There is limited scientific evidence on the severity of illness in pregnant women after COVID-19 infection. That said, current evidence suggests that severity of illness among pregnant women after COVID-19 infection is similar to that in non-pregnant adult COVID-19 cases, and there is no data that suggests infection with COVID-19 during pregnancy has a negative effect on the foetus. It is recommended that all pregnant women follow the same precautions for the prevention of COVID-19, including regular hand-washing, avoiding individuals who are sick, and self-isolating in case of any symptoms, while consulting a healthcare provider by telephone for advice.

 If you have had close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or is being evaluated for, Covid19 infection, you should: Monitor your health starting from the day you first had close contact with the person and continue for 14 days after you last had close contact with the person. Watch for these signs and symptoms:

  • fever

  • cough

  • difficulty breathing

  • muscle pain

  • tiredness

If you develop fever or any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider right away.

A close contact is defined as: Being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters), or within the room or care area of a novel coronavirus case for a prolonged period of time while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment or PPE (e.g., gowns, gloves, NIOSH-certified disposable N95 respirator, eye protection); close contact can include caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a novel coronavirus case – or – Having direct contact with infectious secretions of a novel coronavirus case (e.g., being coughed on) while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment.

Current advice for testing depends on the stage of the outbreak in the country or area where you live. Countries across the EU/EEA might be in different scenarios, even within the same country, and testing approaches will be adapted to the situation at national and local level.

National authorities may decide to only test subgroups of suspected cases based on the national capacity to test, the availability of necessary equipment for testing, the level of community transmission of COVID-19, or any other criteria. As a rational approach, national authorities may consider prioritising testing in the following groups:

  • hospitalised patients with severe respiratory infections;

  • cases with acute respiratory infections in hospital or long-term care facilities;

  • patients with acute respiratory infections or influenza-like illness in certain outpatient clinics or hospitals in order to assess the extent of virus circulation in the population;

  • elderly people with underlying chronic medical conditions such as lung disease, cancer, heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, renal disease, liver disease, diabetes, and immunocompromising conditions

Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so the World Health Organisation (WHO) urges people to use masks wisely.

The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly. 

WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update as new findings are available.

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low. 

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