It’s all around us, but with non-stop news reports, emails, social media and old-fashioned gossip inundating us with random facts and figures every minute, it’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to sort through all the information about what coronavirus COVID-19 really is and how it affects each of us. In an effort to slow down and simplify, we’re sharing a few basic facts from trusted sources to help readers get a better understanding of this new disease that is changing our world.

Coronavirus basic facts

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Most people infected with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • dry cough

Other symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • and very few people will report diarrhea, nausea or runny nose

People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate for a minimum of two weeks. People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention.

Who is at risk for Coronavirus COVID-19?

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based upon available information to date, those who are at a high-risk include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People with serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
  • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease

Myths about coronavirus

MYTH #1: COVID-19 virus can’t live in extreme temperatures, so if you live in a hot, humid environment or near the Arctic circle you’re safe.

TRUTH: From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather or snow and cold weather.

MYTH #2: Coronavirus is spread through mosquitoes, birds and other small animals.

TRUTH: The coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

MYTH #3: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will kill coronavirus

TRUTH: Spraying alcohol or chlorine on your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. In fact, this can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces but aren’t recommended for use on the body.

MYTH #4: Teens and young adults are immune to the virus.

TRUTH: People of all ages can be infected by COVID-19. The World Health Organization advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus.

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