Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, a virus genetic variant or subtype).
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to viral pneumonia, multi-organ failure, or cytokine storm. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around 5 days but may range from 2 to 14 days.
The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, talking, or even breathing. The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than remaining in the air over long distances. People may also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. On surfaces, the amount of virus declines over time until it is insufficient to remain infectious, but it may be detected for hours or days. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear and in later stages of the disease.
The standard method of diagnosis is by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab. Chest CT imaging may also be helpful for diagnosis in individuals where there is a high suspicion of infection based on symptoms and risk factors; however, guidelines do not recommend using it for routine screening.
Recommended measures to prevent infection include: frequent hand washing, maintaining physical distance from others (especially from those with symptoms), covering coughs, and keeping unwashed hands away from the face. In addition, the use of a face covering is recommended for those who suspect they have the virus and their caregivers. There is limited evidence for or against the use of masks (medical or other) in healthy individuals in the wider community.
Management involves the treatment of symptoms, supportive care, isolation, and experimental measures.
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Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Internet. Accessed on May 4, 2020.