Symptoms, spread and different important information about the new coronavirus and COVID-19

As we continually learn extra about coronavirus and COVID-19, it can help to reacquaint your self with some fundamental info. For instance, understanding how the virus spreads reinforces the importance of social distancing and different health-selling behaviors. Knowing how long the virus survives on surfaces can guide how you clean your own home and handle deliveries. And reviewing the widespread symptoms of COVID-19 may help you know if it is time to self-isolate.

What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of colds and different higher respiratory infections.

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, brief for “coronavirus disease 2019,” is the official name given by the World Health Organization to the disease caused by this newly recognized coronavirus.

How many people have COVID-19?
The numbers are changing quickly.

The most up-to-date info is on the market from the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Johns Hopkins University.

It has unfold so rapidly and to so many international locations that the World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic (a term indicating that it has affected a big population, area, nation, or continent).

Do adults younger than 65 who’re otherwise healthy want to fret about COVID-19?
Yes, they do. Although the chance of serious illness or death from COVID-19 will increase steadily with age, youthful individuals can get sick sufficient from the illness to require hospitalization. And certain underlying medical circumstances might increase the danger of serious COVID-19 for people of any age.

People of any age ought to take preventive well being measures like frequent hand washing, bodily distancing, and wearing a masks when going out in public, to assist defend themselves and to reduce the possibilities of spreading the an infection to others.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Some folks contaminated with the virus have no signs. When the virus does trigger symptoms, common ones embrace fever, body ache, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, and lack of scent. In some individuals, COVID-19 causes extra extreme symptoms like excessive fever, severe cough, and shortness of breath, which regularly indicates pneumonia.

People with COVID-19 are additionally experiencing neurological symptoms, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, or each. These could happen with or with out respiratory symptoms.

For instance, COVID-19 affects mind operate in some folks. Specific neurological signs seen in people with COVID-19 include loss of scent, lack of ability to taste, muscle weak point, tingling or numbness in the arms and ft, dizziness, confusion, delirium, seizures, and stroke.

In addition, some folks have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, similar to loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and belly pain or discomfort associated with COVID-19. These signs may start earlier than other signs similar to fever, physique ache, and cough. The virus that causes COVID-19 has additionally been detected in stool, which reinforces the significance of hand washing after every go to to the bathroom and frequently disinfecting bathroom fixtures.

Can COVID-19 signs worsen rapidly after several days of sickness?
Common symptoms of COVID-19 embody fever, dry cough, fatigue, lack of appetite, loss of scent, and body ache. In some folks, COVID-19 causes more severe symptoms like high fever, extreme cough, and shortness of breath, which often signifies pneumonia.

A individual could have gentle symptoms for about one week, then worsen rapidly. Let your physician know if your signs quickly worsen over a short time frame. Also name the doctor instantly should you or a liked one with COVID-19 expertise any of the following emergency signs: bother respiration, persistent pain or strain within the chest, confusion or inability to arouse the particular person, or bluish lips or face.

What are cytokine storms and what have they got to do with COVID-19?
A cytokine storm is an overreaction of the body’s immune system. In some folks with COVID-19, the immune system releases immune messengers, called cytokines, into the bloodstream out of proportion to the risk or long after the virus is no longer a menace.

When this occurs, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, doubtlessly causing important hurt. A cytokine storm triggers an exaggerated inflammatory response that will damage the liver, blood vessels, kidneys, and lungs, and increase formation of blood clots throughout the body. Ultimately, the cytokine storm might cause extra harm than the coronavirus itself.

A simple blood test might help decide whether someone with COVID-19 may be experiencing a cytokine storm. Trials in countries all over the world are investigating whether medication which were used to deal with cytokine storms in people with other, non-COVID situations could be effective in individuals with COVID-19.

One of the symptoms of COVID-19 is shortness of breath. What does that imply?
Shortness of breath refers to unexpectedly feeling out of breath, or winded. But when do you have to worry about shortness of breath? There are many examples of temporary shortness of breath that are not worrisome. For instance, if you feel very anxious, it’s normal to get short of breath after which it goes away if you settle down.

However, when you find that you’re ever respiration more durable or having hassle getting air each time you exert your self, you always have to name your doctor. That was true earlier than we had the recent outbreak of COVID-19, and it will nonetheless be true after it is over.

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that if shortness of breath is your solely symptom, without a cough or fever, one thing aside from COVID-19 is the probably problem.

Does COVID-19 cause strokes? What about blood clots in other parts of the physique?
Strokes occur when the mind’s blood provide is interrupted, usually by a blood clot. Recently, there have been reports of a larger-than-expected number of younger sufferers being hospitalized for, and generally dying from, severe strokes. These strokes are happening in sufferers who take a look at constructive for coronavirus however who wouldn’t have any traditional risk components for stroke. They are likely to don’t have any COVID-19 signs, or solely mild symptoms. The kind of stroke occurring in these patients sometimes occurs in much older sufferers.

COVID-related strokes occur because of a bodywide improve in blood clot formation, which can injury any organ, not simply the mind. A blood clot within the lungs known as pulmonary embolism and might trigger shortness of breath, chest ache, or dying; a blood clot in or close to the guts can cause a heart assault; and blood clots within the kidneys could cause kidney harm requiring dialysis.

We do not but know if the coronavirus itself stimulates blood clots to kind, or if they’re a results of an overactive immune response to the virus.

Can COVID-19 have an effect on brain operate?
COVID-19 does appear to have an effect on brain perform in some folks. Specific neurological signs seen in folks with COVID-19 embody lack of scent, inability to taste, muscle weak point, tingling or numbness within the hands and feet, dizziness, confusion, delirium, seizures, and stroke.

One research that looked at 214 folks with average to severe COVID-19 in Wuhan, China discovered that about one-third of these sufferers had one or more neurological signs. Neurological symptoms had been extra widespread in individuals with extra extreme disease.

Neurological signs have additionally been seen in COVID-19 patients in the US and around the world. Some folks with neurological signs tested positive for COVID-19 however didn’t have any respiratory signs like coughing or issue breathing; others skilled both neurological and respiratory symptoms.

Experts have no idea how the coronavirus causes neurological symptoms. They may be a direct results of infection or an oblique consequence of inflammation or altered oxygen and carbon dioxide ranges brought on by the virus.

The CDC has added “new confusion or incapability to awaken” to its record of emergency warning indicators that should prompt you to get instant medical consideration.

Is a misplaced sense of odor a symptom of COVID-19? What ought to I do if I lose my sense of odor?
Increasing proof means that a lost sense of odor, recognized medically as anosmia, may be a symptom of COVID-19. This isn’t a surprise, as a result of viral infections are a leading explanation for loss of sense of smell, and COVID-19 is a caused by a virus. Still, lack of odor might help medical doctors establish people who don’t have other symptoms, but who might be contaminated with the COVID-19 virus — and who could be unwittingly infecting others.

A assertion written by a gaggle of ear, nostril and throat specialists (otolaryngologists) within the United Kingdom reported that in Germany, two out of three confirmed COVID-19 instances had a lack of sense of odor; in South Korea, 30% of people with delicate signs who examined optimistic for COVID-19 reported anosmia as their main symptom.

On March twenty second, the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery beneficial that anosmia be added to the list of COVID-19 signs used to display folks for potential testing or self-isolation.

In addition to COVID-19, loss of odor can even end result from allergies in addition to different viruses, together with rhinoviruses that trigger the widespread cold. So anosmia alone doesn’t mean you could have COVID-19. Studies are being accomplished to get extra definitive answers about how common anosmia is in individuals with COVID-19, at what level after an infection lack of odor happens, and the way to distinguish lack of scent attributable to COVID-19 from loss of odor caused by allergies, different viruses, or other causes altogether.

Until we all know more, inform your physician immediately if you end up newly unable to smell. He or she may prompt you to get tested and to self-isolate.

How long is it between when a person is uncovered to the virus and once they start exhibiting symptoms?
Recently printed research found that on common, the time from publicity to symptom onset (often known as the incubation period) is about 5 to six days. However, research have proven that signs might appear as quickly as three days after publicity to as long as 13 days later. These findings proceed to support the CDC recommendation of self-quarantine and monitoring of symptoms for 14 days post publicity.

How does coronavirus spread?
The coronavirus is assumed to unfold primarily from individual to individual. This can occur between people who find themselves in close contact with one another. Droplets that are produced when an contaminated particular person coughs or sneezes could land in the mouths or noses of people who find themselves nearby, or presumably be inhaled into their lungs.

A particular person infected with coronavirus — even one with no signs — may emit aerosols after they talk or breathe. Aerosols are infectious viral particles that may float or drift around within the air for as much as three hours. Another particular person can breathe in these aerosols and turn into contaminated with the coronavirus. This is why everyone should cover their nostril and mouth once they exit in public.

Coronavirus can also spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects. For example, an individual can get COVID-19 by touching a floor or object that has the virus on it and then touching their very own mouth, nostril, or probably their eyes.

The virus could also be shed in saliva, semen, and feces; whether it’s shed in vaginal fluids isn’t recognized. Kissing can transmit the virus. Transmission of the virus through feces, or throughout vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex, seems to be extremely unlikely right now.

How might contact tracing assist sluggish the spread of COVID-19?
Anyone who comes into shut contact with somebody who has COVID-19 is at increased danger of becoming infected themselves, and of potentially infecting others. Contact tracing may help prevent further transmission of the virus by rapidly figuring out and informing individuals who could also be infected and contagious, to allow them to take steps to not infect others.

Contact tracing begins with figuring out everybody that a person recently recognized with COVID-19 has been in contact with since they turned contagious. In the case of COVID-19, a person could also be contagious 48 to 72 hours earlier than they started to expertise symptoms.

The contacts are notified about their publicity. They may be told what signs to look out for, advised to isolate themselves for a period of time, and to hunt medical consideration as wanted in the event that they start to expertise symptoms.

How deadly is COVID-19?
The reply is determined by whether or not you are trying at the fatality price (the chance of demise among those who are contaminated) or the entire number of deaths.

Regarding the fatality price, it appears that the danger of demise with the pandemic coronavirus an infection (generally estimated at about 1%) is far less than it was for SARS (roughly eleven%) and MERS (about 35%), but will likely be larger than the chance from seasonal flu (which averages about zero.1%). We may have a extra accurate estimate of fatality rate for this coronavirus an infection once testing turns into extra routine.

What we do know thus far is the risk of death very much is dependent upon your age and your overall well being. Children seem like at very low danger of severe illness and death. Older adults and those that smoke or have chronic diseases similar to diabetes or heart disease have a better likelihood of creating complications like pneumonia, which could be lethal.

Will warm weather slow or stop the spread of COVID-19?
Some viruses, just like the widespread chilly and flu, unfold extra when the weather is colder. But it’s nonetheless possible to turn out to be sick with these viruses throughout hotter months.

At this time, we do not know for sure whether or not the unfold of COVID-19 will decrease when the climate warms up. But a new report means that warmer climate could not have much of an influence.

The report, revealed in early April by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, summarized analysis that checked out how nicely the COVID-19 coronavirus survives in various temperatures and humidity levels, and whether the spread of this coronavirus could gradual in warmer and extra humid weather.

The report found that in laboratory settings, higher temperatures and better ranges of humidity decreased survival of the COVID-19 coronavirus. However, research taking a look at viral spread in varying local weather situations in the natural environment had inconsistent results.

The researchers concluded that conditions of increased heat and humidity alone may not considerably sluggish the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Can the COVID-19 virus unfold via air-con?
We do not know for sure if the COVID-19 virus spreads via air con. But we do know that when it is hot and humid, persons are more more likely to keep indoors, with the windows closed — giving the virus more alternative to spread.

Coronavirus spreads by way of droplets that an infected individual emits through coughs or sneezes and thru smaller, infectious viral particles that can drift round within the air for several hours. Outdoors, air currents can scatter and dilute the virus, making transmission much less probably. You’re more more likely to inhale the virus indoors, with the windows closed, whether or not you could have the air conditioning on.

If you have to be indoors with anybody outside of your household, increase air circulation by maintaining the home windows open as much as potential.

How long can the coronavirus keep airborne? I even have learn totally different estimates.
A study carried out by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Laboratory of Virology in the Division of Intramural Research in Hamilton, Montana helps to answer this query. The researchers used a nebulizer to blow coronaviruses into the air. They discovered that infectious viruses might stay in the air for up to three hours. The results of the research had been printed in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 17, 2020.

How lengthy can the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 survive on surfaces?
A latest study discovered that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and as much as two to a few days on plastic and stainless steel. The researchers additionally found that this virus can hang out as droplets within the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they’ll fall more rapidly.

There’s lots we nonetheless don’t know, corresponding to how totally different situations, corresponding to exposure to sunlight, warmth, or cold, can have an effect on these survival times.

As we be taught extra, proceed to observe the CDC’s suggestions for cleaning incessantly touched surfaces and objects daily. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, rest room fixtures, bogs, telephones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

If surfaces are dirty, first clean them utilizing a detergent and water, then disinfect them. A listing of products appropriate for use against COVID-19 is available right here. This list has been pre-permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be used through the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition, wash your palms for 20 seconds with cleaning soap and water after bringing in packages, or after trips to the grocery store or other locations the place you could have come into contact with infected surfaces.

Should I settle for packages from China?
There is not any cause to suspect that packages from China harbor coronavirus. Remember, this is a respiratory virus similar to the flu. We don’t stop receiving packages from China throughout their flu season. We ought to follow that very same logic for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can I catch the coronavirus by eating food handled or ready by others?
We are nonetheless learning about transmission of the new coronavirus. It’s not clear if it may be spread by an infected individual via meals they’ve handled or prepared, but if so it will extra likely be the exception than the rule.

That said, the brand new coronavirus is a respiratory virus recognized to spread by upper respiratory secretions, together with airborne droplets after coughing or sneezing. The virus that causes COVID-19 has also been detected within the stool of sure people. So we at present can not rule out the possibility of the infection being transmitted by way of food by an infected one who has not thoroughly washed their hands. In the case of sizzling meals, the virus would likely be killed by cooking. This will not be the case with uncooked foods like salads or sandwiches.

The flu kills more people than COVID-19, at least so far. Why are we so apprehensive about COVID-19? Shouldn’t we be more targeted on stopping deaths from the flu?
You’re right to be involved about the flu. Fortunately, the same measures that help prevent the unfold of the COVID-19 virus — frequent and thorough handwashing, carrying a mask, not touching your face, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow, avoiding people who find themselves sick, and staying away from individuals when you’re sick — also assist to protect against unfold of the flu.

If you do get sick with the flu, your doctor can prescribe an antiviral drug that may cut back the severity of your illness and shorten its period. There are at present no antiviral drugs obtainable to treat COVID-19.

Should I get a flu shot?
While the flu shot won’t defend you from growing COVID-19, it is nonetheless a good suggestion. Most folks older than six months can and should get the flu vaccine. Doing so reduces the chances of getting seasonal flu. Even if the vaccine does not forestall you from getting the flu, it could possibly decrease the possibility of severe symptoms. But once more, the flu vaccine won’t protect you towards this coronavirus.

Is it safe to make use of steroids to control allergy and asthma symptoms in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, it’s safe to use corticosteroid nasal sprays to control nasal allergic reactions or inhaled corticosteroids to control bronchial asthma symptoms in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) lately issued an announcement emphasizing the importance of controlling allergy and bronchial asthma signs during the pandemic. They mentioned there isn’t any evidence that intranasal or inhaled corticosteroids improve the risk of getting the COVID-19 an infection or result in a worse outcome when you do get infected.

The ACAAI statement was a response to concerns over reviews warning against the use of systemic steroids to treat hospitalized COVID-19 sufferers with particular respiratory complications. However, those stories didn’t refer to wholesome individuals utilizing corticosteroid nasal sprays or inhalers to handle allergic reactions or asthma.

Blog posts
Coronavirus Update: We’re going through the beginning of a second wave (recorded 6/eleven/2020)
Dr. Ashish K. Jha, head of the Harvard Global Health Institute, offers data on the place we are where we’re going with the COVID-19 outbreak. Some take-aways:

* Communications missteps by the WHO regarding asymptomatic transmission have been shortly corrected. Yes, you’ll be able to catch COVID-19 from people who find themselves not showing signs.
* A second wave has begun, significantly within the south and Midwest. And calculations present we’ll reach greater than 200,000 COVID-19 associated deaths by September.
* Jha provides recommendation for parents, lecturers and administrators on workable back-to-school eventualities.
* We know you don’t need to hear it, but COVID-19 shall be a fact of world life for the remainder of the yr until a vaccine becomes broadly out there.

A Harvard infectious ailments doctor appears at COVID-19 (recorded three/3/20)
Dr. Todd Ellerin is on the entrance lines of infectious disease containment and mitigation as the director of infectious ailments at South Shore Health in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He’s an instructor at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We spoke to him this week to get an replace on the rapidly growing story surrounding the coronavirus Covid-19.

Coronavirus status report: Harvard public health expert Dr. Ashish K. Jha fills us in on the place we are headed (recorded three/19/20)
The COVID-19 outbreak has triggered markets to collapse and worldwide well being techniques to become overwhelmed. When there’s a world pandemic, it’s nice to hear from the regular, transparent and sure even reassuring voice of consultants on the front strains. We spoke to Dr. Ashish K. Jha, college director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Dr. Jha’s latest appearance on the PBS Newshour triggered reverberations throughout the federal and state response system. Here’s his update.

For extra information on coronavirus and COVID-19, see the Harvard Health Publishing Coronavirus Resource Center.
Image: gemphotography/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides entry to our library of archived content. Please observe the date of final evaluation or replace on all articles. No content material on this web site, regardless of date, ought to ever be used as an alternative to direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.