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What is Covid-19?

(Optum, 2021)

COVID-19 is an illness caused by the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 (Association, 2021). Following a series of "viral pneumonia" cases in Wuhan, the People's Republic of China, the world first learned of this virus on 31 December 2019 (IBM Watson Health, 2020). Early on, spread of the coronavirus spread was connected to an animal market, indicating animal-to-person transmission. In January of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak a public health emergency and later a pandemic (Optum, 2021), with the spread of coronavirus disease to over 100 other locations, including the US (Association, 2021). Months later, confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded in almost all countries of the world.

How does COVID-19 affect the body?

The lungs are the first organ in the body affected by COVID-19. In the early days of infection, the coronavirus quickly invades cells in our respiratory system. COVID-19 is understood to attack the epithelial cells, flooding airways with debris and fluids. Individuals who become ill with COVID-19 may experience mild to severe disease. In many cases, they may be asymptomatic (have no symptoms) (American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel, 2021). Most (about 80%) of those who develop symptoms recover from the disease without hospitalization. About 15% are seriously ill and require oxygen, and 5% are critically ill and need intensive care. Complications that lead to death can include respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock, thromboembolism, and multiple organ failure, including the heart, liver, and kidneys. In rare cases, children may develop severe inflammatory syndrome a few weeks after infection (Daily Human Care, 2021). The following should seek immediate medical treatment Individuals of all ages who experience the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain

  • Chest pressure

  • Cough associated with breathing difficulties

  • Fever

  • Loss of movement

  • Loss of speech

  • Shortness of breath

When possible, call your health care provider, hotline, or health facility first, so that you can be directed to the right clinic.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
  • Dry cough

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients are:
  • Chills

  • Conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes)

  • Diarrhea

  • Different types of skin rash

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Loss of taste or smell

  • Muscle or joint pain

  • Nasal congestion

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Sore throat

Symptoms of severe COVID-19 diseases include:
  • Confusion

  • High temperature (above 38 °C)

  • Loss of appetite

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

  • Shortness of breath

Other less common severe symptoms are:
  • Anxiety

  • Confusion

  • Depression

  • Irritability

  • More severe and rare neurological complications include:

  • Brain inflammation

  • Delirium

  • Nerve damage

  • Strokes

  • Reduced consciousness (sometimes associated with seizures)

  • Sleep disorders

(World Health Organization, 2021)


American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. (2021,

April 14). Learn About COVID-19. Retrieved from American Lung Association:

Association, A. L. (2021, 14 April). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Retrieved from

American Lung Association:

Daily Human Care. (2021, April 05). Is Post Nasal Drip Covid-19’s symptom or not?

Retrieved from Daily Human Care:

IBM Watson Health. (2020, December 02). Covid-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019).

Retrieved from Drugs:

Optum. (2021, July 07). Coronavirus (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions.

World Health Organization. (2021, May 13). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

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