COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus, which is part of a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). They are found worldwide in humans and animals.
According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and a dry cough. Some people may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but do not develop any symptoms or feel unwell. Most people (about 80 percent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Approximately one out of every six people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems and compromised immune systems, are more likely to develop severe illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use the Government of Ontario’s online self-assessment to determine if you need to seek further care.