What is the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Muscle pain, sputum production and sore throat are less common. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to severe pneumonia and multi-organ failure. As of 20 March 2020, the rate of deaths per number of diagnosed cases is 4.1%; however, it ranges from 0.2% to 15% depending on age and other health problems.
The infection is typically spread from one person to another via respiratory droplets produced during coughing. It may also be spread from touching contaminated surfaces and then touching ones face. Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between 2 and 14 days, with an average of 5 days. The standard method of diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab. The infection can also be diagnosed from a combination of symptoms, risk factors and a chest CT scan showing features of pneumonia.
Recommended measures to prevent infection include frequent hand washing, social distancing (maintaining distance from others), and keeping hands away from the face. The use of masks is recommended for those who suspect they have the virus and their caregivers, but not the general public. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Management involves treatment of symptoms, supportive care, isolation, and experimental measures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Evidence of local transmission of the disease has been found in many countries across all six WHO regions.