COVID-19 - Prevention; 2019 Novel Coronavirus - Prevention; SARS CoV 2 - Prevention
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a serious disease, mainly of the respiratory system, affecting many people around the globe. It can cause mild to severe illness and even death. COVID-19 spreads easily between people. Learn how to protect yourself and others from this illness.
HOW COVID-19 SPREADS
COVID-19 is an illness caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people within close contact (about 6 feet or 2 meters). When someone with the illness coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes, droplets carrying the virus spray into the air. You can catch the illness if you breathe in these droplets.
In some instances, COVID-19 may spread through the air and infect people who are more than 6 feet away. Small droplets and particles can remain in the air for minutes to hours. This is called airborne transmission, and it occurs mainly in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. However, it is more common for COVID-19 to spread through close contact.
Less often, the illness can spread if you touch a surface with the virus on it, and then touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or face. But this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
The risk of spreading COVID-19 is higher when you interact closely with others who are not in your household for longer periods of time.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS
You can spread COVID-19 before you show symptoms. Some people with the illness never have symptoms, but can still spread the disease. However, there are ways to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19. These tips can help you and others stay safe:
If you have COVID-19 or have symptoms of it, you must isolate yourself at home and avoid contact with other people, both inside and outside your home, to avoid spreading the illness. This is called home isolation (also known as "self-quarantine").
You should remain at home, avoid contact with people, and follow the guidance of your provider and local health department about when to stop home isolation.
For the most up-to-date news and information about COVID-19, you can visit the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
World Health Organization website. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic - www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html. Updated January 11, 2022. Accessed March 13, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19: How COVID-19 spreads. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html. Updated July 14, 2021. Accessed March 13, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19: How to protect yourself and others. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html. Updated February 25, 2022. Accessed March 13, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19: Use of masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html. Updated August 12, 2021. Accessed March 13, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19: Use and care of masks. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html. Updated February 25, 2022. Accessed March 13, 2022.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 3/13/2022
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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