Typical signs and symptoms include fever, dry cough, fatigue, coughing up phlegm, and shortness of breath. Some cases also report sore throat, headache, muscle pain, and chills.
More serious cases develop severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, and septic shock that can lead to death. People over 60 and with existing chronic conditions (namely hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer) seem to be more vulnerable to severe illness and death. Current estimates of the time between infection and onset of symptoms range from one to 14 days with average estimates of five to six days. While people are mostly infectious when they show symptoms, there are indications that, in rare cases, people might be able to transmit the virus without showing any symptoms or before the symptoms appear. Infected people without symptoms do not seem to be a driver of transmission of COVID-19. However, it makes early detection of COVID-19 infections more difficult. That said, it is not unusual for viral infections of this type – for example, measles. If you have these or similar symptoms, you can now use Ada for a free symptom assessment. Please keep in mind that these symptoms could also indicate the common cold and further testing will be necessary to diagnose COVID-19. Diagnosis Laboratory testing of respiratory and blood samples confirm SARS-CoV-2 infection. Who should be tested for COVID-19? Patients who have a sudden onset of at least one of the following: cough sore throat shortness of breath. AND in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms, they fulfilled at least one of the following criteria: had close contact with a COVID-19 patient (healthcare-associated exposure, working together in close proximity or sharing the same classroom environment, travelling together, or living in the same household) had a history of traveling to areas with ongoing community transmission of COVID-19 worked in or attended a healthcare facility where patients with COVID-19 infections were being treated. What to do if you fit these criteria? As the measures differ between countries, contact your respective public health authority to get advice on what to do. Before you go to a doctor’s office or the emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travels and your symptoms, and then, follow their advice. Avoid contact with others. Do not travel while sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Treatment To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus. However, those with COVID-19 should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimal supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials. Prevention At present, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Avoiding exposure to the virus is the best way to prevent infection. Standard measures to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses apply: Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough. Stay home when you're sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. For travelers going to affected areas: Several countries discourage travel to “affected areas” (those that are experiencing ongoing transmission of COVID-19). In general, avoid non-essential travel, both to reduce individual risk, as well as to prevent quarantine measures upon return. If travel cannot be avoided, or you are already in an affected area, please note the following: Avoid contact with sick people. Discuss travel to the affected area with your healthcare provider – older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. For even more details, read our Ada Editorial article on the novel coronavirus where one of our doctors, Dr. Gilsdorf, answers your most commonly asked questions. This site adheres to the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. “Novel coronavirus”. 3 March 2020. World Health Orginization. “Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”. 24 February 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”. 24 February 2020. World Health Orginization. “Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)”. 23 February 2020. World Health Orginization. “Coronavirus Situation Report”. 1 March 2020. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. “Q & A on COVID-19”. 16 February 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary”. 3 March 2020. Center for Disease Control. “Travel Notices: COVID-19 in China”. 3 March 2020. Center for Disease Control. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). What You Should Know: Prevention & Treatment”. 15 February 2020. Auswärtiges Amt. “China: Reise- und Sicherheitshinweise (Teilreisewarnung)”. 3 March 2020. GOV.UK. “Foreign travel advice: China”. 2 March 2020.