What It Is and What It Isn't
We have structured this module so that you first learn the basic information you need to know on COVID-19. This will equip you with the knowledge you need to recognize what COVID-19 is and what it isn't. Understanding the basic facts around COVID-19 can help you address misinformation on the disease and recognize truth from rumors.
An Introduction to COVID 19
Defining Key Terms
What is a coronavirus? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are many types of coronaviruses, and some can cause illness in animals and humans. Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve into a new coronavirus that makes people sick.
What is a pandemic? A pandemic is defined as an epidemic (a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time) occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an abbreviation for the disease caused by a coronavirus, first discovered in 2019 in Wuhan, China . This highly infectious respiratory disease was originally linked to animals, but little is known about how the virus first passed to humans. Now, however, the main mode of transmission is person-to-person and spreading quickly from country to country. This is because it is a new kind of coronavirus, and people have not been able to build any immunity to it.
COVID-19 is different from the many other kinds of coronaviruses that cause mild illnesses like colds. It is a new coronavirus that is more closely related to more severe kinds of coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). While most people who get COVID-19 will have a mild illness like a cold or flu, some people will develop a more serious, life-threatening illness.
The spread of COVID-19 was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Public Health Event of International Concern on January 30, 2020. To see in more detail where COVID-19 has spread around the world, how many people have recovered, and how many people have died, review the Johns Hopkins dashboard below.
How did COVID-19 become a pandemic?
The initial cases of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of COVID-19 cases were reported and none of them had any exposure to animal markets, meaning that the disease was spreading from person to person.
Shortly after that, cases were reported outside of Wuhan and in countries outside of China where many of the people with COVID-19 had no history of traveling outside of their country or any contact with anyone from China, proving how contagious the disease is and how quickly it can spread between friends, families, and communities all over the world through close and undetected exposure.
The lack of global preparedness to handle such a contagious disease and respond to its early warning signs in combination with an initial absence of effective testing, adequate protective equipment, and the ongoing absence of proven treatment and vaccinations for the virus, has exacerbated the spread around the world. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
How COVID-19 Spread Around the World
We will discuss more on the modes of COVID-19 transmission in the following topic.