Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus i.e. severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). First identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak to be a pandemic on 11 March, 2020.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), those infected with Covid-19 can display any of the following symptoms:
|Most common symptoms||Less common symptoms||Serious symptoms|
|Aches and pains|
Loss of taste or smell
A rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes
|Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath|
Chest pain or pressure
Loss of speech or movement
It is also possible for a person to carry the infection without displaying any symptoms. This person can still transmit the disease to someone else.
According to the WHO, to prevent infection:
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3.2 feet) distance from people coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching the face.
- Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Stay home if unwell.
- Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
- Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
Read our explainer to understand more on how Covid-19 is an epidemic as well as a notified disaster in India.
New strains of the Coronavirus
Over time, multiple new variants of coronavirus have been identified in different parts of the world. These include1:
- The B.1.1.7 variant in the United Kingdom
- The B. 1.351 variant in the South Africa
- The P.1 variant in Brazil
- Your Health, Covid-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant.html.