Q) What is a novel coronavirus?

A new coronavirus that has not been previously identified is known as a novel coronavirus.  The coronavirus circulating in humans causing mild illness, like the common cold is not the same as the virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  Hence patients with COVID-19 disease shall be evaluated and treated in a different manner.

Q) What is COVID-19?

In February 2020, the World Health Organization coined the official name for the disease-causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for the disease.

Q) What is the name of the virus causing the outbreak of coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus first reported from Wuhan, China was named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, also known as SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses  on 11, February 2020

Q) What is the source of COVID-19?

Human to human transmission of the virus has been identified between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
Respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes when inhaled by others are also sources of infection.

Q) How does COVID-19 spread?
This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum.

Q) When can a person infected with COVID-19 spread the infection?

A person who is actively suffering from illness with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why the CDC recommends that these patients are isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

Q) What is the community spread of COVID-19?

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”). Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Q) When is it ok to release someone with suspected COVID-19 infection from isolation?

Current CDC guidelines for when is it ok to release someone with suspected coronavirus infection from isolation made on a case by case basis and includes meeting all of the following requirements:

  • The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
  • Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others. The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.

Q) What is quarantine? 

Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed the illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. 

Q) Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others?

Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.

Q) Can the virus that causes COVID-19 to be spread through food, including refrigerated or frozen food?

Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that is shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.

Q) Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months.  At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when the weather becomes warmer.  There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.