What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
COVID-19 spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks. The droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly (within seconds or minutes) near the infected person, to smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under some circumstances.
The COVID-19 virus is most commonly spread from an infected person through respiratory secretions (e.g., runny nose, saliva) and droplets generated when you cough or sneeze, and close, prolonged personal contact, such as living in the same household or working directly with someone who is infected with the virus.
The virus may also spread through touching an object with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
People of any age or health status can develop COVID-19. However, some people are at higher risk of becoming severely ill if they are infected with COVID-19:
Who is at higher risk if infected with COVID – 19?
Older adults (the risk increases with each decade, especially over 60 years).
People of any age with chronic medical conditions (e.g., lung disease, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, dementia, stroke)
People of any age who are immunocompromised, including those with an underlying medical condition like cancer, or individuals taking medications that suppress the immune system, like chemotherapy.
Individuals with obesity and a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- The most common symptoms include:
- Fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) Cough that’s new or worsening
- Barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup)
- Shortness of breath (feeling out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
Other symptoms can include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
- Stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
- Lost sense of taste or smell
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
- Headache that’s unusual or long lasting
- Digestive issues (nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)
- Muscle aches that are unusual or long lasting
- Extreme tiredness that is unusual
- Falling down (for older individuals)
For young children and infants: decreased or lack of appetite
Children tend to have abdominal symptoms and skin changes or rashes.
How do I prevent COVID-19?
Protect your family, friends, and co-workers from COVID-19 by doing your part to prevent the spread. HPEPH recommends all residents practice five fundamental actions to reduce exposure in our community:
- Stay home when ill, as directed by provincial assessment tools;
- Always physical distance with those outside your household;
- Wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, as well as when physical distancing is difficult or not possible;
- Wash your hands often, and clean frequently touched surfaces;
- Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.