What is coronavirus or COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This new coronavirus originated in Hubei Province, China and the disease caused by the virus is named COVID-19. 

What are the symptoms?

The COVID-19 virus affects different people in different ways.  COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment.  People who have underlying medical conditions and those over 60 years old have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death.

Common symptoms include:

  • fever

  • tiredness

  • dry cough.

Other symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath

  • aches and pains

  • sore throat

  • and very few people will report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.

People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.

People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention.

World Health Organization: Symptoms

How is this coronavirus spread?

COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared

  • close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes

  • touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.

How can we help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet

  • cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser