Medical Conditions

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(Coronavirus disease, 2019 novel coronavirus)
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The Facts

COVID-19 is a newly identified infectious disease that first came to worldwide attention in December 2019, originating in Wuhan, China. Cases of COVID-19 infection began to spread globally in increasing numbers and in March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated COVID-19 as a pandemic. To date, hundreds of thousands of cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, with numbers continuing to increase over time.


The virus causing COVID-19 is officially known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It belongs to a larger family of viruses called coronavirus. Although coronaviruses can affect both animals and humans, only human coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections. These infections range from mild illnesses such as the common cold to severe illness such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The spread of COVID-19 is not completely understood, however investigations have identified the beginning of the outbreak within an animal market. COVID-19 can spread directly from person to person through respiratory droplets. You can also come into contact with the virus through aerosols (droplets small enough to float in the air) created when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These aerosols linger in the air for long periods of time. You may also pick up the virus from touching infected surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

People with highest risk of exposure include:

  • People in areas of ongoing community spread of COVID-19
  • Health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19
  • Close contact of persons with COVID-19
  • Travellers returning from affected international locations (especially cruise ships, international conferences and other large gatherings in enclosed spaces)
Symptoms and Complications

People infected with COVID-19 may experience symptoms ranging from little-to-no symptoms to severe illness and death. Most infections are usually mild and begin gradually 2 to 14 days after exposure.

Most common symptoms include:

  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Tiredness

Other symptoms include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Nasal congestion
  • Pneumonia
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat

However, some people go on to develop severe breathing problems, heart rhythm problems, heart injury, and shock. The risk of dying from COVID-19 is higher for certain populations including adults aged 65 and older (risk increasing by age), people who have underlying chronic medical conditions (including heart disease, diabetes, lung disease), and people with weakened immune systems.

There are symptoms of the cold, flu, and seasonal allergies that may be similar to those of COVID-19, making it difficult to tell the difference. Symptoms and risks may differ from person to person, so always check with your doctor or your public health office if you are concerned.

Making the Diagnosis

If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of a COVID-19 infection you should seek medical advice. Your health care provider will ask you about your symptoms, your travel history, and whether you might have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19. Coronavirus infections are diagnosed by a health care provider based on symptoms and are confirmed through a laboratory test.  The test is usually done by taking a nasal swab or a throat swab.

Treatment and Prevention

Most people with mild illness will recover without treatment. However, your health care provider may recommend some available medications to help provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19.

Drug treatments for COVID-19 are currently being developed and tested. On July 27, 2020, Health Canada approved remdesivir (Veklury®) to treat severe COVID-19 symptoms in adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older, who weigh at least 40 kg.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but research and development are underway.

Since COVID-19 is thought to mainly be spread from person to person, practising good hand hygiene is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself from being infected. Wear a non-medical face mask whenever possible, as the virus can stay in the air. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands. You should try to minimize your chances of being exposed to the virus by avoiding contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, you should cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: