What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in humans ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of virus that has not been previously identified in humans. In some cases, illness caused by novel coronavirus can be mild. In more severe cases, the novel coronavirus can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, severe influenza-like illness, kidney failure and even death.
If you would like to learn more, an online course about COVID-19 is available.
Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to more severe. Some symptoms are similar to the flu and other common respiratory infections.
- new onset of cough
- unexplained fatigue
- sore throat
- runny nose
- stuffy or congested nose
- lost sense of taste or smell
- difficulty breathing
- difficulty swallowing
- pink eye
- digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain), or
- for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite
Older adults may also experience symptoms like:
- Acute Functional Decline
- Increased Heart Rate
- Decreased Blood Pressure
In more severe cases, complications from COVID-19 can include pneumonia, kidney failure, or in some cases, death.
The risk of developing severe disease from COVID-19 may be higher if you have a weakened immune system. This may be the case for:
- older people;
- anyone with chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer, heart, renal or chronic lung disease.
Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre.
The virus spreads through small droplets from the nose or mouth when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets can land on objects or surfaces around a person. Other people can catch COVID-19 when they breathe in the droplets or touch contaminated surfaces or objects and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. This is why it is important to keep at least 2 meters (6 feet) away from other people who may be sick.
The World Health Organization advises that symptoms may appear in as few as two days, or as long as 10 to 14 days, after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. This time period is subject to change and may be updated as new information becomes available.
Commonly Asked Questions:
How Does COVID-19 Spread?
Can COVID-19 last on surfaces and in the air?
Can you catch COVID-19 via stool?
- On December 31st, 2019, China reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province. A novel coronavirus was eventually identified.
- By January 13th, 2020 officials confirm the first recorded case outside of China in Thailand.
- By March 13th, 2020 the World Health Organization declared a world wide pandemic.
- The first case of COVID-19 reported in Canada became ill on January 15, 2020 (date of symptom onset).
A Timeline of COVID-19 Events is available from the World Health Organization.