Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
All you need to know to protect yourself and your children
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Everyone is talking about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and everywhere you look there’s information on the virus and how to protect yourself from it. Knowing the facts is key to being properly prepared and protecting yourself and your loved ones. Sadly, there’s a lot of information out there that is incorrect. Misinformation during a health crisis leaves people unprotected and vulnerable to the disease and spreads fear and stigmatization.
Be sure to get your facts from reliable sources, like UNICEF and the World Health Organization. UNICEF is working with global health experts around the clock to provide accurate information. Information you can trust is grounded in the latest scientific evidence. We’ll continue to provide the latest updates, explainers for parents and teachers, and resources for media as new information becomes available, so check back to stay informed of the best ways to protect yourself and your family.
Please help us fight misinformation about COVID-19. Share this information with your family, friends and colleagues to help ensure people have the facts about COVID-19 and can protect their health.
What is a ‘novel’ coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus.
The disease caused by the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.’
The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.
How does the COVID-19 virus spread?
The virus is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. The COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, but simple disinfectants can kill it.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal.
These symptoms are similar to the flu (influenza) or the common cold, which are a lot more common than COVID-19. This is why testing is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19. It’s important to remember that key prevention measures are the same – frequent hand washing, and respiratory hygiene (cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throw away the tissue into a closed bin). Also, there is a vaccine for the flu – so remember to keep yourself and your child up to date with vaccinations.
How can I avoid the risk of infection?
Here are four precautions you and your family can take to avoid infection:
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
- Cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissue immediately
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms
- Seek medical care early if you or your child has a fever, cough or difficulty breathing
Learn more about the disease and what you can do to protect yourself and loved ones through the resources below.