The COVID-19 virus and symptoms

What is COVID-19

COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus that can affect your lungs and airways.

Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses which cause illnesses such as the common cold.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • a new or worsening cough
  • a fever of at least 38°C
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu.

Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

Less common symptoms

Some people may also have less common symptoms such as only:

  • fever
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • confusion and irritability.

We do not yet know how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected. Current World Health Organization assessments suggest that it’s 2 to 10 days.

COVID-19 is spread by droplets

COVID-19 is spread by droplets from person to person. People can catch the virus through their eyes, nose or mouth. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may spread droplets containing the virus. These droplets are too large to stay in the air for long, so they quickly settle on surrounding surfaces.

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