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People infected with COVID-19 may experience symptoms five to six days after exposure to the virus; however, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to initiate.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a member of a large family of viruses called coronaviruses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people infected with COVID-19 may experience a range of symptoms five to six days after exposure to the virus; however, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to initiate (incubation period).

COVID-19 originated at Wuhan in China in early December 2019. It has then rapidly spread with confirmed cases in almost every country across the world. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a “pandemic.”

The older population, those with high body mass index and those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular, and respiratory diseases (asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are more likely to develop severe illness and experience prolonged and long-lasting symptoms.

What are the primary symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

How does coronavirus spread?

Person-to-person transmission occurs through:

  • Droplets or aerosol transmission: The most common way of transmission is through aerosols that carry tiny virus particles in the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. Anyone present within a six-feet distance can breathe the virus into their lungs.
  • Airborne transmission: Virus can live up to three hours in the air; it can infect someone who breathes in the air that is breathed out by an infected person.
  • Surface transmission: Research shows that the virus can live on surfaces such as plastics and steel for two to three days; you may get infected if you touch a contaminated surface.
  • Fecal–oral transmission: It is speculated that the virus can spread through an infected person’s stools, but it is not yet proved.

Can asymptomatic people transmit COVID-19?

Yes, people without symptoms can transmit the virus, which is known as the asymptomatic spread and can occur even before the symptoms develop, which is known as the presymptomatic spread.

What organs are most affected by COVID-19?

While the lungs are the first and most common organ affected by COVID-19, it can cause damage to other organs such as the heart, kidneys, skin, and brain.

How to protect yourself from coronavirus disease

Follow these guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent infection and control the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Maintain a distance of at least six feet or one meter from others.
  • Cover your face and nose while sneezing or coughing.
  • Wear a proper-fitted mask in crowded places or poorly ventilated areas.
  • Avoid touching nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and sanitize the areas of frequent touch such as doorknobs.
  • Get vaccinated as early as possible.

What are the complications of COVID-19?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not a short-term infection and a few of its severe consequences include:

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Medically Reviewed on 12/9/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

How does coronavirus spread. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/lung/coronavirus-transmission-overview#1

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1

Lisa Maragakis. Coronavirus Diagnosis: What Should I Expect? Johns Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/diagnosed-with-covid-19-what-to-expect

COVID-19 basics. Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-basics