What Is COVID-19 and How Dangerous Is It?
COVID-19 is an illness. It’s caused by a novel coronavirus. When a coronavirus is “novel,” that means it’s being seen in humans for the first time. That’s why people who study viruses are so concerned about COVID-19. Scientists are still learning about how it spreads and how it affects people.
Doctors say that most people who get the illness will get better. However, those over the age of 60 are at a higher risk for complications. So are people with chronic conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Those who have suppressed immune systems are also more likely to have problems.
Many people who have COVID-19 might not show symptoms at all. That’s one reason the illness has spread so quickly. People who don’t feel sick might not know they’re carrying the novel coronavirus. If they continue to come into contact with others, they risk spreading the illness. That’s why so many schools and workplaces have closed.
In the past, other coronaviruses have caused many illnesses. Some of these are fairly mild, like the common cold. Others are more severe. One example was the coronavirus that caused a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak between 2002 and 2004. But the one that causes COVID-19 is different from these. As of now, the total number of infections in the world were over 400,000, and deaths more than 18,000.
Where did this novel coronavirus come from? Experts say it spread to humans from an animal. Now, it’s spreading from person to person quickly. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called it a global pandemic. The first cases of COVID-19 were in Wuhan, China. From there, it quickly spread across the globe. You can find information on the spread of COVID-19 in the daily Situation Reports from WHO.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19? The most common ones are fever, cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing. If you or someone you know has these symptoms, it’s important to call a healthcare provider right away. Don’t go anywhere without the direction of your doctor.
What can you do to avoid getting or spreading COVID-19? It’s important to wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. To make sure your hands are clean, wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. These are points of easy entry for the coronavirus.
As always, be sure to cover sneezes and coughs. If possible, sneeze or cough into a tissue and then throw it away. Experts also recommend social distancing. That means staying away from large crowds and keeping six feet away from people outside your immediate family. Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms should stay away from other people completely.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of misinformation going around about COVID-19. Some people think they need to wear a medical mask to avoid getting sick, but that’s not true. However, hospitals do need medical masks. If you have unneeded ones at home, consider giving them to a hospital or doctor’s office.
Other people think the novel coronavirus is unable to spread in warm climates. This is also untrue. COVID-19 can spread in any climate. At this time, experts don’t have any evidence to suggest that heat can stop it. The coronavirus can also spread to any person, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or age.
Many people feel anxiety or fear about COVID-19. It can be scary to see so many people sick. This is an important time to be kind to others—and if you’re worried, talk to a trusted adult. If you or a family member have symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact health officials as soon as possible. You should also stay away from other people until you feel better.