What is coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. They cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe diseases.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China.


Symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly. People with coronavirus may experience:

Note: Nasal congestion can be experienced, different to standard cold/flu congestion. COVID-19 patients have described it as a feeling of drowning. If this occurs, it is crucial that you seek immediate medical assistance.

Who is at risk?

Those most at risk of contracting the virus are those who have:

How it spreads

There is evidence that the virus spreads from person-to-person.
The virus is most likely spread through:


Surgical masks are only helpful in preventing the spread of coronavirus, when worn by an infected person. If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask, as there is little evidence supporting the widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people.
Everyone should practise good hygiene to protect against infections. Good hygiene includes:


If you become unwell and think you may have symptoms of coronavirus, seek medical attention.
Call your doctor ahead of time to book an appointment, informing your doctor of your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has coronavirus.
If you must leave home to see your doctor, wear a surgical mask (if you have one) to protect others.
If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call your local emergency medical services.


There is no treatment for coronavirus, but medical care can treat most of the symptoms. Antibiotics do not work on viruses.
If you have been diagnosed with coronavirus, isolate yourself in your home.

How to isolate yourself

Do not go to public places, such as work, school, shopping centres, childcare or university. If possible, ask other people to get food and other necessities for you and to leave them at your front door.
Only people who usually live with you should be in your home. Do not let visitors in.
You do not need to wear a mask in your home.
If you need to leave home to seek medical attention, wear a surgical mask (if you have one) to protect others.

Some Perspective:

Until recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the annual influenza mortality burden to be 250 000 to 500 000 all-cause deaths globally. However, a 2017 study indicated a substantially higher mortality burden, at 290 000-650 000 influenza-associated deaths from respiratory causes alone.

Did you know that...

More information

For the latest advice, information and resources, go to www.who.int

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