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What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has information on COVID-19 symptoms and caring for yourself and others. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. In some cases, asymptomatic persons may be able to cause the spread.

Can the virus be transferred through food (restaurant take-outs or frozen)?

According to the CDC, the virus is transferred from person to person through droplets. Currently, no evidence support transmission of COVID-19 through food.

Is wearing a mask going to prevent the spread?

Since the transmission of virus occurs due to exposure to droplets from an infected person, wearing a mask minimizes the chances of this exposure, thus preventing the disease.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty with breathing should seek medical attention.

How do I tell the difference between common flu and COVID-19?

The COVID-19 infection and common flu have similar symptoms and can be differentiated only through laboratory testing.

Is it safe to get other medical consultations and treatments during this time?

The CDC has issued the following guidelines in for addressing other medical conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Continue your medications, and do not change your treatment plan without speaking with your healthcare provider.
  • Continue to manage your disease the way your healthcare provider has told you.
  • Have at least a 2-week supply of all prescription and non-prescription medications.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether your vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • Call your healthcare provider
    • if you have any concerns about your medical conditions, or if you get sick.
    • to find out about different ways you can connect with your healthcare provider for chronic disease management or other conditions.
  • Do not delay getting emergency care for your health problems or any health condition that requires immediate attention.
    • If you need emergency help, call 911.
    • Emergency departments have infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care for your medical condition.
  • Continue to practice everyday prevention. Wash your hands often, avoid close contact, wear a mask, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.
Are pregnant women more susceptible to the virus, and does it affect the fetus?

There are no research publications available that address the susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes, which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly by close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets. Whether a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to her fetus or neonate by other routes of vertical transmission (before, during, or after delivery) is still unknown.

Who is at risk of developing severe illness?

Research is ongoing in this area, but older people and people with existing medical conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, lung diseases or cancer appear to develop more serious illness than others.

What is the recovery time for the coronavirus disease?

The current data shows that the recovery time for mild cases is 2 weeks (from the onset to complete recovery.) However, in case of severely ill patients, the recovery time can be 3-6 weeks or more.

What is more effective, washing hands with soap or using a hand sanitizer?

One of the best ways to protect yourself form the virus is to wash hands with soap for 20 seconds especially after sneezing, coughing, or coming in from outside. If soap is not available, cleaning hands with a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is effective.

Are the symptoms of COVID-19 different in children and adults?

No, both the children and adults have similar symptoms of the disease. COVID-19 infection varies from person to person. Some experience no symptoms at all, others may have mild symptoms, and some show severe symptoms.