What is COVID-19?

What is coronavirus?

The 2019 novel coronavirus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. The virus has been named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes has been named coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

For confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms or mild cold symptoms to people being severely sick, some recovering and others dying. Infections with no symptoms are described but their frequency is unknown. 

Symptoms may include fever, cough and sore throat. In some patients, these symptoms can worsen into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Persons who are elderly, immunocompromised, or if have other co-morbidities, such as heart disease, liver disease, are at higher risk of developing severe pneumonia and dying from the disease.

Symptoms of the coronavirus may appear in as few as two days or up to 14 days after exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The median period of incubation is 4 days. 

How does it spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person to person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. The principal mode of transmission is still thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets that travel up to six feet in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes. This transmission is similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Close contact with an infectious person, such as shaking hands, or touching a doorknob, tabletop or other surfaces touched by an infectious person, and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth can also transmit the virus. It is not yet known how long the new coronavirus can survive on surfaces, but based on data from other coronaviruses, such as SARS, it may be for up to two days at room temperatures. It is important to note that patients who are infected with COVID-19, but display no symptoms can still transmit the virus to others. 

Who is at risk of contracting coronavirus?

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current risk assessment is as follows:

  • For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
  • People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated though still relatively low risk of exposure.
  • Health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.

Note that diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. Uncertainty about contracting the disease can cause fear and anxiety, which can lead to social stigma towards Chinese and other Asian Americans. Help stop fear by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.

The CDC notes that, “People – including those of Asian descent – who have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of COVID-19 or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed suspected case of COVID-19 are NOT at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-9” to others.

What age range is currently affected?

Individuals of any age can acquire COVID-19 infection, although adults of middle age and older are most commonly affected. In several cohorts, the median age was found to range from 49-56 years. Older age is associated with increased mortality.


Content Source:

“Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Patients out of Wuhan from China.” New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 2020, doi:10.21203/rs.3.rs-15449/v1.


Adopted from ProMedica