Covid-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a novel (new) coronavirus which appeared in late 2019 and quickly spread around the world.
The virus is spread mainly through droplets in the breath of infected persons, through coughing, sneezing or talking. Therefore:
The virus can survive on some surfaces for hours to days, and enter your mucous membranes if you’ve touched contaminated surfaces and then touch your face. Therefore:
Symptoms may develop after ±5 days or up to 2 weeks from exposure. Most people only get mild symptoms similar to a cold, or the “flu”: fever, chills, sore throat, headache, body aches, changed sensation of smell or taste, or rarely, diarrhoea. An unknown proportion of people may contract the virus and not get sick at all, but could potentially still spread the virus to other people. A minority of people may develop more severe disease, like pneumonia: fever, coughing, and / or difficulty breathing. Such cases may require admission to hospital for oxygen and other supportive measures – phone the Hotline if uncertain.
This occurs more often in the elderly, or people with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart- or lung conditions, cancer, or obesity.
NB: For people living with HIV (PLHIV) who are well-controlled on their antiretroviral treatment (ARVs / ART), the risk for developing severe disease appears to be the same as that of the general population.
Although the disease may be fatal in a small percentage of people, the vast majority will recover within a few weeks.