According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person can have a SARS-CoV-2 infection for 2–14 days before they develop symptoms of COVID-19.
People with the following symptoms or a combination of them may have COVID-19:
- shortness of breath
- difficulty breathing
The disease may also be present if someone has at least two of these symptoms:
- sore throat
- repeated shaking with chills
- new loss of taste or smell
- muscle pain
Precautions and protective measures
The first step involves understanding which populations have a higher risk of contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection. It also helps to know what groups have a higher risk of developing severe complications from an infection.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets in the air or on contaminated surfaces.
As a result, healthcare professionals and individuals caring for people with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections have an increased risk of contracting an infection.
According to the CDC, the following also have a high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms:
- people aged 65 years and older
- individuals living in a nursing home
- people with uncontrolled or severe health conditions
- people with weakened immune systems
- people with severe obesity
Avoiding or limiting contact with people showing COVID-19 symptoms or with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection is the best way to prevent the spread of infection.
People who do not develop symptoms can still transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others. As a result, people should practice physical distancing.
Physical distancing means keeping 2 meters (six feet) away from people when outside, limiting contact with others, and avoiding large public gatherings, as much as possible.
Other precautions against COVID-19 include:
- staying at home as often as possible
- wearing a face mask in public areas
- avoiding touching the face, eyes, nose, or mouth when around others or if hands are dirty
- covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing
- washing hands with soap and warm water frequently
- disinfecting commonly used objects, including electronics, keys, doorknobs, and countertops
The protective measures discussed above may help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2. However, these measures do not guarantee complete protection against COVID-19.
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