Last update 07.05.2020
Facts About COVID-19
The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reports that Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a recently discovered virus from the coronavirus group. It is a group of viruses found in both animals and humans. In humans, coronavirus infections are recorded throughout the year, especially in autumn and winter.
Human bodies respond to coronaviruses in a variety of ways, from mild respiratory illnesses to serious complications (pneumonia, kidney failure) and even death. To date, serious cases have been caused by the SARS and MERS coronaviruses. The SARS reservoir in nature (source of infection) is civets and, possibly, bats. The MERS reservoir is dromedary camels.
The source of the Covid-19 infection in nature is yet unknown. The outbreak began in December 2019 in Wuhan, in the South of China. It is possible that Covid-19 was transmitted from the animal world, as some of the cases were connected to the Wuhan South China Seafood and Animal Market. However, there are still too few studies to say with certainty exactly how and whether Covid-19 was transmitted from the animal world.
In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Covid-19 pandemic. A pandemic is a large-scale disease epidemic that affects several continents or the whole world. The Covid-19 pandemic is currently thought to have affected the entire world.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus spreads through the saliva and nasal secretions of infected persons:
- Via direct contact with an infected person.
- Via tiny droplets that occur whilst talking, sneezing, or coughing.
- By touching surfaces and objects that have been contaminated with respiratory secretions.
How long is the incubation period of COVID-19?
The incubation period is the period between infection and the onset of the disease. This means that even before the first symptoms appear, a person may have already been infected with COVID-19 for some time without being aware of it. The incubation period of COVID-19 is 2 to 14 days, with the first signs of the disease usually appearing in about 5 days.
Is the virus contagious during the incubation period?
It has been proven that a person infected with Covid-19 can spread the disease from the moment they develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and body aches. It is still unknown exactly how contagious the virus is before any signs of the disease have appeared.
If you suspect that you have Covid-19 (you have returned from abroad, have been in contact with an infected person, etc.), you must closely monitor your health condition for a period of 14 days for any signs of the disease and you must self-isolate or be quarantined.
What else should I know about the virus?
As Covid-19 particles can survive on surfaces for up to several days, it is recommended to observe proper respiratory hygiene: sneeze and cough into a bent elbow or disposable tissue paper, disinfect hands and surfaces, do not touch your face with hands (especially the areas around your mouth, nose, and eyes), wash your hands frequently and disinfect them, observe physical distancing, and comply with the quarantine measures in case of illness or suspected illness.
People who have been infected with Covid-19 usually experience mild to moderate respiratory illnesses and can recover at home without the need of hospitalisation.
However, high-risk groups have a risk of serious complications and include the elderly (over 60 years of age) and people with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancer.
Special medicine for treating Covid-19 or vaccines for immunity are not currently available. Therefore, the spread of the disease can only be limited if everyone follows the instructions of epidemiologists (physical distancing, hand washing, disinfection, and last but not least, staying home if you are sick!).
At a time when Latvia is also affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important for each of us to follow safety measures and to be aware of how the disease spreads and what the symptoms are.