What is COVID-19 and coronavirus?
COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019) is a disease caused by a new coronavirus that affects the lungs and airways.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. These viruses can cause a wide range of illnesses, including the common cold.
However, unlike the common cold this virus is new and so nobody has immunity to it. The entire population is therefore at risk of catching it.
There is no cure or vaccine yet for this new coronavirus, and any treatment given aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
It's not known exactly how this coronavirus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses are spread by the droplets of moisture produced when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes.
How to avoid getting or spreading the virus
There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting or spreading the virus.
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- wash your hands as soon as you get back home
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
You should also follow the Government’s advice about staying home and about social distancing, self-isolation and social shielding.
For up to date advice please look at the information provided by the Government.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The most common symptoms of coronavirus are:
- new, continuous cough
- high temperature (fever)
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- feeling short of breath
Other symptoms may include a sore throat, headache, feeling tired (fatigue), or aches and pains.
Some people with the virus may not develop any symptoms, and most people will recover without the need for any specific treatment.
Even if you have no or only mild symptoms, you can still pass the virus to others if you are infected. You should always be following the Government’s advice about social distancing.
Last updated: 06/04/2020