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Infectious Diseases

Updated 13 March 2020

8 fast facts on the new coronavirus

To help you better understand what's happening, here are 8 fast facts on the new coronavirus.

The virus is highly contagious – more so than flu

So far, the Covid-19 virus appears to be more contagious than most strains of the flu. However, it is believed to be most contagious only when people are the most symptomatic, according to the Yale School of Medicine.

Most people who are infected only suffer mild to moderate illness

The majority of patients with the Covid-19 virus are adults, and most patients – around 80%, according to an extensive study – experienced mild illness. Approximately 14% experienced severe disease and 5% were critically ill, reports the World Health Organization (WHO)

How the virus spreads

The virus spreads through respiratory droplets in the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The particles can land in the mouths or noses of those nearby – this means how close you are to that person will matter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus can spread within a 1.8 metre radius, so maintain social distancing.

Proper hygiene is important

At the same time, those droplets can land on surfaces you come into contact with so focusing on proper hand hygiene is important and can help you reduce your risk of picking up coronavirus. The WHO has advised everyone to regularly and thoroughly wash their hands and to disinfect surfaces that are touched regularly, such as your phone.   

Your pet won't infect you

It is agreed that the most common method of spreading remains human-to-human contact in close proximity, and it is highly unlikely that your pet will get sick from Covid-19, notes a previous Health24 article.

It may take up to 14 days to display symptoms

In the event you are infected, it may take as many as 14 days to exhibit symptoms, although the WHO says the incubation period (between infection and showing any symptoms) most commonly happens within five days.

Symptoms to look out for - and they mimic flu

According to the WHO the most common symptoms of the virus are fever, tiredness, shortness of breath and dry cough - . Some patients may experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. However, most of these cases would be mild, and some people might not display any symptoms at all. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure. 

What to do if you're displaying symptoms

The Minister of Health said the risk to the general South African community of acquiring Covid-19 remains low. But if you suspect you may be affected by the virus, call your doctor and inform them before going in to their surgery or a hospital waiting room, so as to avoid infecting other people.

READ MORE | Coronavirus 101 – what you need to know

READ MORE | Your 10 most searched coronavirus questions answered

READ MORE | What is the difference between Covid-19 and coronavirus?

Image: Getty