The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness .
It is important to note that current circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC’s risk assessment will be updated as needed.
Current risk assessment:
- For most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. This virus is not currently widespread in the United States.
- People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
Symptoms of common human coronaviruses:
- runny nose
- sore throat
- general feeling of being unwell
Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults.
Preventing viral respiratory infections
Protect yourself from getting sick
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
Protect others when you are sick
- stay home while you are sick
- avoid close contact with others
- cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
Treatment for common human coronaviruses
There is no vaccine to protect you against human coronaviruses and there are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own. However, to relieve your symptoms you can:
- take pain and fever medications (Caution: do not give aspirin to children)
- use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease
- a sore throat and cough
- drink plenty of liquids
- stay home and rest
If you are concerned about your symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
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