COVID-19, also known as coronavirus disease 2019, is a contagious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The first known case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The disease quickly spread worldwide, resulting in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The symptoms of COVID‑19 are variable but often include fever, cough, headache, fatigue, breathing difficulties, loss of smell, and loss of taste. Symptoms may begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. At least a third of people who are infected do not develop noticeable symptoms. Of those who develop symptoms noticeable enough to be classified as patients, most (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging), and 5% develop critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction).
There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Treatment is supportive and includes measures such as rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms. In some cases, hospitalization may be required.
There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19:
- Get vaccinated and boosted.
- Wear a mask in public indoor settings.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
If you think you may have COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider.
The long-term effects of COVID-19 are still being studied. Some people who have been infected with the virus have reported long-term symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and difficulty concentrating. There is also some evidence that COVID-19 can damage the heart, lungs, and brain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the world. It has caused millions of deaths and disrupted economies and societies. However, there is hope that the pandemic will eventually end. With vaccination, masking, and other preventive measures, we can help to slow the spread of the virus and protect ourselves and our loved ones.