A coronavirus is a kind of virus that causes disorders of the respiratory system in animals and humans. A novel coronavirus emerged from Wuhan, China, in 2019. It spread quickly around the world.
When a person is infected with the new coronavirus, they will develop a respiratory disease known as COVID-19.
Like other viruses, the coronavirus incubation period varies. This article discusses how long it may take to develop symptoms of COVID-19 and what you can do if you have it.
The incubation period: Here’s what to know
The coronavirus incubation period is the time between when a person contracts SARS-CoV-2 and when the symptoms first manifest.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus incubation period is between 2 to 14 days after contracting the virus.
A recent report shows that over 97% of people infected with the virus show symptoms within 12 days of exposure. On average, the incubation period seems to be around 5 days. However, this estimate varies as more research is done.
For most people, the symptoms being mildly and then worsens over a few days.
Transmission of the virus
The novel coronavirus spreads through close contact or from respiratory droplets (via coughs or sneezes).
SARS-CoV-2 is highly contagious. This means that it can spread with ease. According to the CDC, people who have contracted the virus are most contagious when they manifest symptoms of the disease.
Although it’s not so common, an infected person can transmit the virus even when they have not shown symptoms.
There is also the possibility that the virus can be transmitted by touching surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus, and then touching your nose or mouth. However, this is not the major mode of transmission.
How to protect yourself
Frequent washing of the hands is the best way to prevent yourself from contracting SARS-CoV-2.
Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If there’s no soap and water nearby, you can use a hand sanitizer containing no less than 60 percent alcohol.
Other protective measures include:
- Maintain a distance of 6-feet from sick people, and avoid large crowds.
- Try not to touch your face.
- Do not share personal effects. Personal effects would include toothbrushes, utensils, glasses, and lip balm.
- Clean high-touch surfaces like keyboards, doorknobs, and stair rails with a diluted bleach solution or household cleaners.
- Ensure your hands are washed after touching ATMs, elevators, grocery carts, or gas pump handles.
- If you experience symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19’s, stay at home and call your doctor.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms are mild and usually develop slowly. The major symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
Other symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Aches and pains in your muscle
- Chills, accompanied by shaking in some cases
- Runny nose
- Loss of taste or smell
COVID-19 induces more respiratory symptoms than the common cold. Common symptoms of the common cold include sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose. Fevers are not too common with a cold.
Flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms. However, COVID-19 will more likely cause dyspnea (shortness of breath) plus other respiratory symptoms.
Over 80% of those infected recovers from the symptoms of COVID-19 without needing any special treatment.
In other instances, people may experience severe illness after contracting COVID-19. Older people and those whose immune systems have been compromised have a very high risk of developing severe symptoms.
What should you do if you think that you have symptoms?
If you think you’re manifesting symptoms of COVID-19, just stay at home and notify your doctor. Let him or her know:
- The exact symptoms you’re experiencing
- The severity of your symptoms
- Whether you’ve been abroad or had established contact with someone who has
- Whether you’ve been in a crowd recently
You will need an evaluation if:
- You have severe symptoms
- You’re an older person
- You have any underlying medical condition
- You’ve recently been exposed to a COVID-19 patient
Your doctor will decide whether you should be tested or not and the treatment that is most suitable for you.
If you have mild symptoms with no underlying health conditions, you may be asked to rest at home, stay hydrated, and avoid establishing contact with other people.
If your symptoms worsen after a few days of rest, then get immediate medical care.
Most COVID-19 patients start noticing symptoms within 2-14 days of exposure to the virus. On average, symptoms develop within 5 days of exposure, but this may change as more discoveries are being made. If you experience the symptoms, call your doctor. He or she will advise you on what to do. Until you are diagnosed, stay at home, and try not to make contact with others.