Frequently Asked Questions
What is COVID-19? COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus) is an emerging respiratory virus that first appeared in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.
What are coronaviruses? Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have a halo or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under a microscope. These viruses are a common cause of mild to moderate upper-respiratory illness in humans and are associated with respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver and neurologic disease in animals.
What are the symptoms and signs of COVID-19? Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. Current belief at this time is that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure. This is based on current understanding of the incubation periods of other novel coronaviruses (such as MERS).
How is COVID-19 Transmitted? Most coronaviruses are transmitted through direct contact and through close contact with respiratory droplets. Many details about this novel coronavirus are unknown, including the ease of human-to-human transmission and severity of illness. Current research suggests the following as probable routes of transmission:
- Inhaling respiratory droplets excreted when an infected person coughs or sneezes
- Exposure to objects or surfaces that are contaminated with infected respiratory droplets
If coronaviruses usually cause mild illness in humans, how could this new coronavirus be responsible for a potentially life-threatening disease such as COVID-19? There is not enough information about the new virus to determine the full range of illness that it might cause. Coronaviruses have occasionally been linked to pneumonia in humans, especially people with weakened immune systems. The viruses also can cause severe disease in animals, including cats, dogs, pigs, mice and birds.