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The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January, and a pandemic on 11 March.

The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, and talking. The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than travelling through air over long distances. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread is possible before symptoms appear, and from people who do not show symptoms.

Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around five days but may range from two to fourteen days. There is no known vaccine or specific antiviral treatment. Primary treatment is symptomatic and supportive therapy.

Recommended preventive measures include hand washing, covering one’s mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, wearing a face mask in public settings, and monitoring and self-isolation for people who suspect they are infected. Authorities worldwide have responded by implementing travel restrictions, lockdowns, workplace hazard controls, and facility closures. Many places have also worked to increase testing capacity and trace contacts of infected persons.

The pandemic has caused global social and economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression. It has led to the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, political, and cultural events, widespread supply shortages exacerbated by panic buying, and decreased emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Schools, universities, and colleges are currently closed either on a nationwide or local basis in 185 countries, affecting approximately 98.5 percent of the world’s student population. Misinformation about the virus has spread online, and there have been incidents of xenophobia and discrimination against Chinese people and against those perceived as being Chinese or as being from areas with high infection rates.

Symptoms of Covid -19

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.

Most common symptoms:   

  • fever.
  • dry cough.
  • tiredness.

Less common symptoms:    

  • aches and pains.
  • sore throat.
  • diarrhoea.
  • conjunctivitis.
  • headache.
  • loss of taste or smell.
  • a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.

Serious symptoms:     

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • chest pain or pressure.
  • loss of speech or movement.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms.  Always call before visiting your doctor or health facility.

People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should manage their symptoms at home.   On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.

Prevention

To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
  • Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.

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