COVID-19 is an abbreviation for the novel (or new) coronavirus. ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ ‘D’ for disease, and ’19’ for ‘2019.’ It is a new disease that has not previously been seen in humans and was first identified in Wuhan China in late 2019, as a cluster of pneumonia of unknown cause.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Learn more about the science about how this virus infects the body and how our body’s immune system reacts by watching this interview with WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove.
Clean your hands often
Wear a mask
Avoid close contact
Stay home if you’re sick
Cover coughs and sneezes
Clean and disinfect
Data regarding the real-world effectiveness of community masking are limited to observational and epidemiological studies.
Each analysis demonstrated that, following directives for universal masking, new infections fell significantly.
Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death.
Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there are limited data and information about the impact of many underlying medical conditions and whether they increase the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know at this time, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
This list does not include all possible symptoms.
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus first identified in 2019, and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu. However, as more people become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 should slow down. More information is available about COVID-19 vaccines and how well they work.
Compared to flu, COVID-19 can cause more serious illnesses in some people. COVID-19 can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.
Because some of the symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar, the difference between them cannot be made based on symptoms alone. Testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis. People can be infected with both flu and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time and have symptoms of both influenza and COVID-19.
While more is learned every day about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, there are still things, such as post-COVID conditions, that are unknown. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.
Stay home except to get medical care
Separate yourself from other people
Monitor your symptoms
Cover your coughs and sneezes
Clean your hands often
Avoid sharing personal household items
Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
Call ahead before visiting your doctor
If you are sick, wear a mask over your nose and mouth
Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical grade masks are reserved for healthcare workers and some first responders.
No, if a nurse tests positive they are to quarantine at home. If symptomatic they stay home as well. It they are tested, they stay home until the test results come back.