Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

General Information

  • COVID-19 virus belongs to a large family of coronaviruses, some of which cause illness in humans

  • COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the COVID-19 virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2 virus

  • Some coronaviruses cause only minor respiratory symptoms like those of a cold, whereas other coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS CoV), have been associated with more serious and life-threatening diseases

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified COVID-19 as causing an outbreak of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and early 2020

  • Concomitant viral or bacterial pathogens at presentation have not been widely described. Secondary bacterial infection can occur, particularly in those receiving mechanical ventilation

  • Transmission occurs primarily via respiratory droplets, or aerosols during aerosol generating procedures

  • It is unclear how easily the virus spreads through contact with surfaces or objects

  • Fecal shedding has been identified but fecal-oral spread is not a significant driver of transmission

  • The incubation period is approximately 5 days (median), but ranges from 1-14 days

  • A person may be infectious for up to 3 days before showing symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses including the flu and common cold; there are no specific symptoms or signs that can reliably distinguish COVID-19.

Symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • cough
  • fever
  • myalgia
  • headache
  • dyspnea
  • sore throat
  • diarrhea
  • nausea/vomiting
  • loss of sense of taste or smell
  • abdominal pain
  • rhinorrhea

Some people experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, shock or multi-organ dysfunction.

Older people or those with chronic illnesses may be at higher risk for a more severe form of the disease. Examples of comorbidities and other conditions associated with severe illness and mortality include cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, chronic lung disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity and smoking.

Additional Resources and Tools

More Information

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim clinical guidance for management of patients with confirmed Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Updated March 7, 2020.
  2. World Health Organization. Clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection when COVID019 disease is suspected. Interim guidance, March 13, 2020.
  3. Metlay JP et al. Diagnosis and treatment of adults with community-acquired pneumonia. An official clinical practice guideline of the American Thoracic Society and Infectious Diseases Society of America. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2019;200:e45.
  4. World Health Organization. Report of the WHO-China joint mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). February 24, 2020.
  5. Novel coronavirus pneumonia emergency response epidemiology team. The epidemiological characteristics of an outbreak of 2019 novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – China, 2020. China CDC Weekly. 2020;2:113.
  6. Huang C et al. Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Lancet. 2020; 395:497.
  7. Chen N et al. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study. Lancet. 2020;395:507.
  8. Wang D et al. Clinical characteristics of 138 hospitalized patients with 2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia in Wuhan, China. JAMA. 2020.
  9. Zhou F et al. Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet. 2020.
  10. Young BE et al. Epidemiological features and clinical course of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Singapore. JAMA. 2020.
  11. Infection Prevention and Control for Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Interim Guidance for Acute Healthcare Settings Feb 3, 2020
  12. Alberta Health Services: Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Interim IPC Recommendations.

Guideline adapted from the Fraser Health Antimicrobial Stewardship Program