1. What is COVID-19? Where did it come from?
On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization gave the 2019 novel coronavirus a new name – COVID-19. The CO stands for corona, the VI for virus and the D for disease. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first identified in China in December 2019.
2. What is the coronavirus?
A. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some cause illness in humans, and others cause illness in animals, such as bats, camels, and civets. There are four common coronavirus strains that cause mild respiratory illnesses (runny nose, muscle aches, sore throat). Coronaviruses are thought to cause up to 30% of common cold cases. COVID-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus that is causing the outbreak currently occurring in China.
3. How does the virus spread?
A. While it appears the virus originally emerged from an animal source, it is spreading from person-to-person. Transmission is most likely via respiratory droplets. It’s not clear how easily COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person.
4. How do you test a person for COVID-19?
A. As of February 28, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) can test for COVID-19. NJDOH’s test results are presumptive until confirmed by the CDC.
The commercial tests available for respiratory viruses detect the common strains of coronavirus which cause the common cold but not COVID-19. These common coronavirus strains usually cause mild disease and are different than the novel strain causing the current outbreak. No additional precautions are needed for common coronavirus patients.
5. What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?
A. Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Some people may have a mild infection. Others may develop pneumonia and require hospitalization.
It is unknown how long symptoms take to appear, but it appears to be between 2 and 14 days.