Coronavirus COVID-19 Disease: What is it and How to Protect Yourself
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
People may be sick with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are fever, tiredness, and dry cough.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus recover without needing special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
More rarely, the disease can be serious and even fatal. 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:
- 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.
Take Steps To Protect Yourself
To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
- Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Stay home if you feel unwell.
- Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
- Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
- HANDS Wash them often
- ELBOW Cough into it
- FACE Don’t touch it
- SPACE Keep safe distance
- HOME Stay if you can
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.