What is it?

COVID-19 stands for "coronavirus disease 2019." It is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. The virus first appeared in late 2019 and quickly spread around the world. People with COVID-19 can either suffer from fever, cough, trouble breathing, and other symptoms and can also be asymptomatic. Problems with breathing happen when the infection affects the lungs and causes pneumonia.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Corona Virus

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms usually start 4 or 5 days after a person is infected with the virus. But in some people, it can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to appear. Some people never show symptoms at all.
When symptoms do happen, they may include:
- Fever
- Cough
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired
- Shaking chills
- Muscle pain
- Headache
- Sore throat
- Problems with sense of smell or taste

Some people have digestive problems like nausea or diarrhea. There have also been some reports of rashes or other skin symptoms. For most people, symptoms will get better within a few weeks. But a small number of people get very sick and stop being able to breathe on their own. In severe cases, their organs stop working, which can lead to death.
Some people with COVID-19 continue to have some symptoms for weeks or months. This seems to be more likely in people who are sick enough to need to stay in the hospital.


COVID-19 can be diagnosed similarly to other conditions caused by viral infections: using a blood, saliva, or tissue sample. However, most tests use a cotton swab to retrieve a sample from the inside of your nostrils.


There’s currently (March 2021) no cure for an infection caused by the new coronavirus. However, many treatments and vaccines are currently under study.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

Learn more about our editorial process for content accuracy.

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