Coronaviruses are not new to the world. The common cold is a type of coronavirus, as are more serious illnesses like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). These illnesses can remain within animal populations, although sometimes they can spread from animals to humans.
When a strain that previously only infected animals makes its way to humans, it’s known as a novel coronavirus. This is the case with COVID-19, which was first identified in a human host in Wuhan, China.
How COVID-19 Spreads
The main route of transmission for COVID-19 is person to person.
Transmission may result when an infected person coughs or sneezes and infected droplets are inhaled by another person. It’s also possible to come into contact with the virus on a surface or object, which is then passed on when a person touches his or her mouth, nose, or eyes.
The virus is considered highly contagious due to how easily it spreads from person to person. Spread is most likely when a person is symptomatic, and symptoms of COVID-19 include coughing, problems breathing/shortness of breath, and fever. Pneumonia, severe respiratory issues, and organ failure are also symptoms of COVID-19, which can be fatal depending on the health of the person who’s ill.
Recommendations If Infection Is Suspected
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge self-quarantine if a person is experiencing the above symptoms and is considered at risk for COVID-19 (such as by coming into contact with an infected person or recently traveling to a country with a high infection rate).
While medical treatment may be necessary, there is a growing fear that hospitals and clinics will be at capacity while dealing with suspected cases. Also, testing supplies are not always readily available, which makes it difficult for medical staff to distinguish legitimate cases from the non-legitimate ones.