Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a virus closely related to the SARS virus. The disease was discovered and named during the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak.Those affected may develop a fever, dry cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath. A sore throat, runny nose or sneezing is less common. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some can progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure. Click Here if you’d like to view regularly updated worldwide data about the Covid19 outbreak. Click Here for infection data around the Philippines.
The infection is spread from one person to others via respiratory droplets produced from the airways, often during coughing or sneezing. Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between 2 and 14 days, with an average of 5 days. The standard method of diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample, with results within a few hours to 2 days. Antibody assays can also be used, using a blood serum sample, with results within a few days. The infection can also be diagnosed from a combination of symptoms, risk factors and a chest CT scan showing features of pneumonia. Click Here if you’d like to learn what you can do if you are infected.
The information on this page is sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control.
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Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Click Here if you’d like to read about common myths about Covid19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Face masks are one tool utilized for preventing the spread of disease. They may also be called dental, isolation, laser, medical, procedure, or surgical masks. Face masks are loose-fitting masks that cover the nose and mouth, and have ear loops or ties or bands at the back of the head. There are many different brands and they come in different colors. It is important to use a face mask approved by the FDA. Learn how to use facemasks properly.
Facemasks help limit the spread of germs. When someone talks, coughs, or sneezes they may release tiny drops into the air that can infect others. If someone is ill a face masks can reduce the number of germs that the wearer releases and can protect other people from becoming sick. A face mask also protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from splashes or sprays of body fluids.
Consider wearing a face mask when you are sick with a cough or sneezing illness (with or without fever) and you expect to be around other people. The face mask will help protect them from catching your illness. Healthcare settings have specific rules for when people should wear face masks.
Proper hand hygiene is the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of germs and to protect yourself and others from illnesses. When not done carefully, germs on the fingertips, palms and thumbs, and between fingers, are often missed. This video demonstrates the World Health Organization (WHO) technique for hand-washing. Watch the video to be sure you are washing your hands thoroughly.
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Feces (poop) from people or animals is an important source of germs like Salmonella, E. coli O157, and norovirus that cause diarrhea, and it can spread some respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease. These kinds of germs can get onto hands after people use the toilet or change a diaper, but also in less obvious ways, like after handling raw meats that have invisible amounts of animal poop on them. A single gram of human feces—which is about the weight of a paper clip—can contain one trillion germs 1. Germs can also get onto hands if people touch any object that has germs on it because someone coughed or sneezed on it or was touched by some other contaminated object. When these germs get onto hands and are not washed off, they can be passed from person to person and make people sick.
Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because:
• People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
• Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
• Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
• Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Handwashing helps battle the rise in antibiotic resistance
Preventing sickness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections (e.g., colds) 2, 5. Antibiotics often are prescribed unnecessarily for these health issues 14. Reducing the number of these infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat.
WHAT TO DO
If you’ve been traveling in a high-risk area like China and Iran, take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:
1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
2. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
3. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
4. Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
5. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
What to do if you get sick if you get sick with fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), cough, or have trouble breathing:
1. Seek medical care. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
2. Tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.
3. Avoid contact with others.
If you need to seek medical care for other reasons, such as dialysis, call ahead to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel to an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.
Advance planning and preparedness are critical to help reduce the impact of a pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) guidance document “Pandemic Influenza Risk Management” External outlines an “all-hazards” emergency risk management approach to pandemic influenza risk management. The guidance takes into account the lessons learned from the influenza A(H1N1) 2009 pandemicExternal in order to create a pandemic influenza planning framework that would allow public health response efforts to be adapted for a more moderate event. WHO will use the global phases of a pandemic – Interpandemic, Alert, Pandemic, and Transition – to describe the spread of a novel influenza A virus. Different countries will face different pandemic phases at different times. The WHO guidance introduces a risk-based approach that would allow public health officials to develop flexible plans based on a national risk assessment while taking into consideration the WHO global risk assessment. To see how the WHO phases map to the CDC phases, see the table in the MMWR article “Updated Preparedness and Response Framework for Influenza Pandemics.”
The World Health Organization’s “Continuum of Pandemic Phases,” displayed as a distribution curve of the hypothetical global average of pandemic cases over time based on a continued pandemic risk assessment. From left to right, the curve shows the increase and decrease of the global average of pandemic cases across four phases of the pandemic continuum. The four phases include “interpandemic,” “alert,” “pandemic,” and “transition.” The phases in the continuum also overlap with the stages of the pandemic risk assessment. From left to right, the three stages of the risk assessment include “preparedness,” “response,” and “recovery.” Starting at the far left of the continuum, the global average of cases are lowest during the “interpandemic” phase, which is during the “preparedness” risk assessment stage. The global average of cases greatly increase through the “alert” and “pandemic” phases, with the greatest global average of cases occurring in the “pandemic” phase. These two phases overlap with the “response” stage of the risk assessment. The global average of cases greatly decreases moving into the “transition” phase, which overlaps with the “recovery” stage of the risk assessment. The figure shows a slight increase of the global average of cases during the “transition” phase, indicating a possible second wave of pandemic cases. The global average of cases decreases until it levels out to the original global average of cases, returning to the “interpandemic” phase, which overlaps with the “preparedness” risk assessment stage.
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