What you need to know about coronavirus disease, COVID-19

Posted at 2:14 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 16:16:39-04

As local, state, national and global health officials monitor and track the outbreak of coronavirus, COVID-19, RTV6 is working to break down what is the disease, what are the symptoms, and what is the impact of this newly-identified respiratory illness.

The CDC said the virus has been named SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes has been named 'coronavirus disease 2019,' or COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through Wednesday, there have been 14 confirmed cases out of 445 cases tested. Of those 14 cases, 12 were travel-related and two were from person-to-person spread. There have also been 45 cases of COVID-19 among people repatriated to the U.S. — 3 from Wuhan, China and 42 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Officials with the Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday said there continue to be no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China has some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths of noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.

Is there a vaccine? How to prevent the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19

According to the CDC, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends everyday preventative measures to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay home when you are 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 with a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Busting COVID-19 myths

The World Health Organization has put together a list of common myths for coronavirus disease, COVID-19. Among the topics addressed:

  • Hand dryers are not effective in killing COVID-19.
  • UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skis as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
  • It is safe to receive a letter or package from China. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, like letters or packages.
  • There is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs or cats can be infected with COVID-19.