Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)?

COVID-19 is the new name for 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which can make humans and animals sick.  Some coronaviruses can cause illnesses similar to the common cold.  Others can cause more serious illnesses, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China.  Since its detection, COVID-19 has spread to other countries in the world. It is called a “novel” virus because it has never been detected before this outbreak.

What are COVID-19 symptoms?

Patients have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

How do you get a COVID-19 infection?

In order to be infected with the virus, you need to be exposed to it. Public health experts are still confirming how this new coronavirus spreads.

Other coronaviruses, like the common cold, SARS and MERS, spread person-to-person by:

  • Respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes – this is also how flu spreads.
  • Touching objects or surfaces (such as door knobs or tables) that has the virus on it from the respiratory droplets mentioned above and then touching your own mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes.
  • Close personal contact (e.g., by touching or shaking hands) with a person who is infectious.

You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seek medical advice if you

    • Develop symptoms
  • AND

    • Have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

If You Feel Sick

  • If you have traveled to an outbreak-affected area and/or been exposed to COVID-19 and feel sick with fever, develop a cough, or have shortness of breath (i.e., difficulty breathing) please contact your healthcare provider to evaluate your symptoms. Please call your provider before seeking care and tell them about your travel and your symptoms.
  • If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms or are having an emergency, please call 911 and tell them about your symptoms and travel history. Please DO NOT call 911 and/or go to the emergency room for mild symptoms that are manageable at home.

Contact Us

The Virginia Department of Health has activated a public information line 1-877-ASK-VDH3 (1-877-275-8343) for questions from residents about the novel coronavirus situation.

Looking for more information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)? Explore these helpful links from reputable sources.