What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Symptoms can include fever or chills, fatigue and body aches, sore throat, dry cough and shortness of breath. In severe cases, COVID-19 can be deadly.

SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 was first found in 2019, hence the name COVID-19 for the virus that was at the center of the 2020 pandemic; it was a new (novel) strain of the coronavirus. Previously discovered coronavirus strains included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 travels in respiratory droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or breathes. You may get infected if you are close by and inhale these droplets.

You can also get it from close contact (touching, shaking hands) with an infected person and then touching your face.

The best ways to prevent catching COVID-19 include getting vaccinated for it, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing (staying a few feet apart from other people), washing hands and avoiding people who are sick.

Don’t delay — get vaccinated against COVID-19

COVID-19 symptoms


Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure. If you have COVID-19, you may have one, several — or even none — of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills/shaking chills
  • Respiratory symptoms, such as dry cough or shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

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