There are many different kinds of coronavirus, and some cause severe diseases. A coronavirus identified in 2019, SARS-CoV-2, has caused a pandemic of respiratory illness, called COVID-19.
How does the coronavirus spread?
As of now, researchers know that coronavirus is transmitted through virus droplets and particles that are released into the air when an infected person breathes, speaks, laughs, sings, coughs, or sneezes. Larger droplets can hit the ground in a few seconds, but tiny infectious particles can linger in the air and collect indoors, especially where there are many people and there is little ventilation. That is why the use of masks, hand hygiene, and physical distancing is essential to prevent COVID-19.
How did the coronavirus start?
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 1, 2019, and the cause was a new coronavirus which was later named SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 may have originated in an animal and changed (mutated) so that it could cause disease in humans. In the past, several infectious disease outbreaks have been attributed to viruses originating in birds, pigs, bats, and other animals that mutated to become dangerous to humans. Research continues, and more studies may reveal how and why the coronavirus evolved to cause pandemic disease.
What is the incubation period for COVID-19?
Symptoms can appear in people within 14 days of being exposed to the virus. A person may infect with the coronavirus is contagious to others for up to three days, and remains contagious to others for 10 to 20 days, depending on their immune system and the severity of their illness.
How is COVID-19 diagnosed?
COVID-19 is diagnosed by a laboratory test. Diagnosis by examination alone is difficult, as many signs and symptoms of COVID-19 can be caused by other diseases. Some people with coronavirus do not show any symptoms. Learn more about COVID-19 testing.
How is COVID-19 treated?
Treatment for COVID-19 addresses the signs and symptoms of infection and helps people with more serious illnesses. More severe cases may require hospital care, where a patient may receive a combination of treatments that could include steroids, oxygen, mechanical respiratory support, and other COVID-19 treatments in development. Monoclonal antibody infusions given to certain patients early in the infection can reduce the symptoms, severity, and duration of the disease.
Does COVID-19 cause death?
Yes, severe COVID-19 can be fatal. For updates on coronavirus infections, deaths, and vaccines around the world, see the global COVID-19 coronavirus case map developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
How do you protect yourself from this coronavirus?
The vaccines are now licensed to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But until it is better understood how vaccines affect a person’s ability to transmit the virus, precautions such as mask use, physical distancing, and hand hygiene should be taken regardless of the person’s vaccination status to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and ways to protect yourself.