Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
The health care environment contains a diverse population of microorganisms and can be a reservoir for potential pathogens. If environmental cleaning is not performed correctly, then environmental contamination can contribute to the spread of multidrug-resistant organisms and health care-associated infections. Collaboration between infection prevention and control (IPC) and environmental services (EVS) staff limits the role of the health care environment in disease transmission.
COVID-19 spreads primarily when people are in close contact and one person inhales small droplets produced by an infected person (symptomatic or not) coughing, sneezing, talking, or singing. The WHO recommends 1 metre (3 ft) of social distance; the U.S. CDC recommends 2 metres (6 ft). People can transmit the virus without showing symptoms, but it is unclear how often this happens. One estimate of the number of those infected who are asymptomatic is 40%.
People are most infectious when they show symptoms (even mild or non-specific symptoms), but may be infectious for up to two days before symptoms appear (pre-symptomatic transmission). They remain infectious an estimated seven to twelve days in moderate cases and an average of two weeks in severe cases.