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What Is Coronavirus? What You Need to Know about COVID-19

nurse at the emergency room during coronavirus outbreak
The virus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms.

What is coronavirus? Information about coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly developing. Is coronavirus something you have to worry about? Here’s a quick update on what’s known at this time, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization.

What is Coronavirus? Coronavirus FAQs

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses, with various strains affecting people and animals. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is the strain that is currently in the news, and it was first identified in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms of this illness are similar to other respiratory illnesses and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Some infected people have few or no symptoms and recover in a few days.

Others, especially the elderly or those with weakened immune systems or chronic health conditions, may have more severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. The virus may even cause death.

Do you or a loved one have symptoms?

Call your doctor or local UVA clinic. If you’re unsure where to call, contact UVA Health at 434.98.COVID (982-6843).

How do you get coronavirus?

COVID-19 typically spreads through contact with respiratory droplets from someone infected with the virus. This can occur when someone who has the virus sneezes, coughs or even talks, with estimated spread occurring up to 6 feet from the infected person. These droplets can also land on surfaces that, if touched, may make you sick if your hands then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms appear in 2 – 14 days after exposure, but the virus may spread even in people with no obvious symptoms.

How can you protect yourself from coronavirus?

The same steps you take to avoid getting a cold or the flu will help protect you from coronavirus.

  • Wash hands often
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands
  • Disinfect surfaces you touch
  • Stay away from people with obvious signs of illness
  • Keep your immune system strong by eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep

Should you wear a protective face mask?

Images of people in other countries wearing face masks may have you wondering if you should wear one, too. Masks can be helpful in preventing the spread of the virus if worn by people who are ill. As of mid-April, the CDC suggested wearing cloth face masks in public settings where keeping your distance from others is difficult.

UVA Health’s Response

Get more information about how UVA is addressing the coronavirus & COVID-19.

How can coronavirus be treated?

There are no specific treatments for coronavirus, but you can help relieve symptoms by doing what you would do for a cold or flu. This includes:

  • Taking medication for pain/fever
  • Using a humidifier or taking a hot shower to help ease coughing
  • Drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest

If symptoms don’t improve, call your doctor to find out if you should be seen or tested for the flu or COVID-19. If symptoms are severe, call 911.

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