What is Covid-19?

Coronavirus disease is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered virus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.


COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalisation. Professor Beales summarises symptoms of Covid-19 in his video below.

As mentioned in the video common symptoms include:

  • A new, continuous cough: This means coughing a lot for more than an hour; or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A high temperature: A temperature above 37.8 or you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • Tiredness
  • Other symptoms: This could include muscle pain and excessive tiredness, having night sweats, a sore throat, losing your sense of taste/smell or something else that doesn’t feel right. Coronavirus can be very different in different people.


Serious symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Loss of speech or movement.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms. Always call before visiting your doctor. People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should manage their symptoms at home. On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.


To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home if you feel unwell
  • Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs
  • Practice social distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.