For starters, media coverage about COVID-19 may be new, but coronaviruses themselves are not. They generally cause “what most people would recognize as the common cold,” says Wesley Long, M.D., Ph.D., director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist, in the USA. Meaning, you’ve probably been infected with a coronavirus strain at some point in your life.
But this particular strain of coronavirus is a “new member” of the coronavirus family, notes Dr. Long. It’s believed to have started in a large seafood market in Wuhan, China, where it may have jumped from animals to humans before spreading from person to person.
“People tend to fear the unknown, and the idea of a new infectious disease similar to the flu for which we lack a vaccine or specific antiviral treatment can be frightening,” explains Dr. Long. And since the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest update says there have been a total of 88,948 confirmed global cases of coronavirus and 3,043 coronavirus deaths, it makes sense that people are freaked out about it.
However, it’s important to prepare for the spread of coronavirus, rather than panic about it, says Dr. Long. So, here’s what you need to know about coronavirus symptoms and how to address them.
Flip to the next page to know which symptoms to take more seriously: