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What is COVID-19?

19 Mar 2020

Covid-19 is a new virus strain that can affect your lungs and airways. It was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses (CoV) 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).

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

Common signs of COVID-19 infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.

Scientific evidence so far shows that the disease is spread by droplets – when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks they may generate droplets containing the virus which then land on surfaces as they’re too large to remain in the air. If someone touches a surface or object that is contaminated with coronavirus, then touches their face, mouth, nose or eyes they could become infected. That’s why it’s important to use good hand hygiene by regularly washing your hands with soap and drying them as well as practicing good coughing & sneezing etiquette.

Please visit covid19.govt.nz for more information and updates in New Zealand

For a more detailed description of COVID-19 from the World Health Organisation watch