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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This is a new illness which targets the respiratory system.

Spread of the disease is transmitted via respiratory droplets through coughing or sneezing.

Follow government guidelines to stay safe and prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Some COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t have any symptoms despite testing positive for the disease. Mild symptoms occur in the majority of cases (~80%) and include a continuous cough and fever. More severe symptoms include shortness of breath, known as dyspnea, which can indicate pneumonia. A small proportion of critical cases (<5%) can result in respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple-organ failure.

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COVID-19 initially affects parts of the upper respiratory tract.

Infection of the upper respiratory tract results in mild symptoms such as a fever and a dry, continuous cough.

A fever is thought to develop as the immune system enhances to fight the virus and inhibit its further spread.

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COVID-19 can spread to the lower respiratory tract.

Infection of the lower respiratory tract affects tertiary branches of the bronchi known as the bronchioles, the air passages of the lungs.

The bronchioles become inflamed and irritated, causing a cough.

In more severe cases, the virus can travel further down the respiratory tract, affecting the alveoli, the air sacs of the lungs.

This may lead to a condition called pneumonia, which is characterised by inflammation of the alveoli and the build-up of fluid.

There is currently no cure for COVID-19 and treatments aim to manage the underlying symptoms of the disease.

Respiratory support may be required for patients with severe pneumonia.

Antibiotics do not help as the disease has a viral cause, not bacterial.

Anti-inflammatory medications should be avoided.

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