Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illnesses such as the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In 2019, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of a disease outbreak that originated in China.
The virus is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease it causes is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Public health groups, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO, are monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and posting updates on their websites. These groups also have issued recommendations for preventing and treating the virus that causes COVID-19.
Symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. This time after exposure and before having symptoms is called the incubation period. You can still spread COVID-19 before you have symptoms. This is called presymptomatic transmission.
Common symptoms can include:
Early symptoms of COVID-19 may include a loss of taste or smell.
Other symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Muscle aches.
- Sore throat.
- Runny nose.
- Chest pain.
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis).
This list isn’t complete. Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.
The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. Some people may have only a few symptoms. Some people may have no symptoms at all, but can still spread it. This is called asymptomatic transmission.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms or you’ve been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your health care team right away for medical advice.