A coronavirus is a type of virus that causes respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious conditions like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
A type of coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, emerged worldwide in 2020. SARS-CoV-2 causes the disease COVID-19, which became a global pandemic.
Learn more about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, including causes, symptoms, vaccines, and treatment options.
SARS-CoV-2 spreads through respiratory droplets.
When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, it releases droplets that can land in an uninfected person's nose, mouth, or eyes. This is how COVID-19 most commonly spreads.
Less commonly, COVID-19 can spread when a person touches an infected surface and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Some people who have COVID-19 may be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms. But COVID-19 can also lead to more serious — even deadly — complications.
Those most at risk for COVID-19 complications include:
Follow these tips to lower your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.
COVID-19 symptoms can start anytime from 2 to 14 days after exposure to SARS-CoV-2. They're similar to symptoms of a cold or flu and may include:
Because COVID-19 symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases, lab tests are necessary to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis.
If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, call your doctor or use UPMC AnywhereCare. They can arrange testing for you.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized multiple COVID-19 treatments. UPMC recommends an oral medication called Paxlovid™ for outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19.
Paxlovid is an oral antiviral medication that must be taken within five (5) days of symptom onset. Paxlovid is available at retail pharmacies and can be prescribed by a medical provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant). If you have low renal function (eGFR < 30 mL/min), you are not eligible for Paxlovid. Your doctor should carefully review your list of medications before you take Paxlovid, as some medications cannot be taken with Paxlovid.
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