2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
A novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified in December as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and which continues to expand. Cases have been identified in the United States, as well as many other countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State and local health departments, including the Maine (ME) Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (MECDC), are monitoring this rapidly developing situation. Information about this outbreak is available on the MECDC website and is continuously updated.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
- What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, but only several types are known to commonly cause infections in people, with these common human coronaviruses usually causing mild to moderate respiratory illness (like the common cold). Newer human coronaviruses, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms. The COVID-19 is originally thought to have spread from animals to humans, but now person-to-person spread is occurring.
- How is it spread?
It’s not clear yet how easily COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person. Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets, including:
- Through the air by coughing and sneezing;
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
This is similar to how influenza and other respiratory infections spread. Until we learn more about how easily the COVID-19 spreads between people, healthcare providers may wear special personal protective equipment (e.g. masks and eye protection) when evaluating a patient if there is concern for infection with the COVID-19.
- What are the symptoms?
We are still learning about how the COVID-19 affects people. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Symptoms of people with confirmed COVID-19 infections have primarily included:
- Difficulty breathing
If you have traveled to/from China and develop symptoms of a fever or respiratory illness within 14 days of your travel, contact your health care provider before going to their office or the emergency department, and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms. You can also contact the ME Division of Public Health Services at (207) 287-8016, if you have questions or concerns.
- How can I protect myself and others?
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick from viral respiratory infections, and help prevent transmitting infections to others, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
- Stay home from work or school if you have a fever or are not feeling well
- CDC steps when sick
- Is there a treatment?
There are no specific treatments recommended for infection with the COVID-19. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms, such as taking pain or fever medications, drinking plenty of fluids, and staying home and resting. Some patients who are very sick may need to go to the hospital to get care.
People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their health care provider immediately.
The ME Department of Health and Human Services (ME DHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have websites specifically focused on COVID-19 with many resources: