Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.
We are learning more about how COVID-19 affects people every day. Older people, and people with
chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, appear to be more at risk of developing
severe symptoms. As this is a new virus, we are still learning about how it affects children. We know it is
possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of
COVID-19 reported among children. This is a new virus and we need to learn more about how it affects
children. The virus can be fatal in rare cases, so far mainly among older people with pre-existing medical
There is no currently available vaccine for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated
and getting early care from a healthcare provider can make the disease less dangerous. There are
several clinical trials that are being conducted to evaluate potential therapeutics for COVID-19.
In workplaces where exposure to COVID-19 may occur, prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical first step in protecting workers, visitors, and others at the work site.
Wherever feasible, immediately isolate individuals suspected of having COVID-19. For example, move potentially infectious individuals to isolation rooms. On an aircraft, if possible and without compromising aviation safety, move potentially infectious individuals to seats away from passengers and crew. In other work sites, move potentially infectious individuals to a location away from workers, customers, and other visitors and with a closed door, if possible.
Take steps to limit the spread of the individual’s infectious respiratory secretions, including by providing them a facemask and asking them to wear it, if they can tolerate doing so. Note: A surgical mask on a patient or other sick person should not be confused with PPE for a worker; the surgical mask acts to contain potentially infectious respiratory secretions at the source (i.e., the person’s nose and mouth).
After isolation, the next steps depend on the type of workplace. For example:
In most types of workplaces (i.e., those outside of healthcare):
Isolated individuals should leave the work site as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the isolated individual’s illness, he or she might be able to return home or seek medical care on his or her own, but some individuals may need emergency medical services.
In healthcare workplaces:
If possible, isolate patients suspected of having COVID-19 separately from those with confirmed cases of the virus to prevent further transmission, including in screening, triage, or healthcare facilities.
Restrict the number of personnel entering isolation areas, including the room of a patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
Protect workers in close contact with the sick person by using additional engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE.
Sick workers should leave the work site as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the isolated worker’s illness, he or she might be able to return home or seek medical care on his or her own, but some individuals may need emergency medical services.