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What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Common human coronaviruses usually only cause mild to moderate respiratory tract illnesses, such as the common cold. On rare occasions, new coronaviruses emerge. These may cause outbreaks and serious illness.

Key points

  1. Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses that include viruses known to cause illness in animals. Sometimes these infections can be passed to humans.

  2. Most people will get infected with one or more of the common human coronaviruses in their lifetime. Young children are most likely to get infected. 

  3. Coronavirus usually causes a mild disease, such as the common cold, that does not require specific treatment.

  4. In rare cases, coronaviruses can cause serious outbreaks. Coronaviruses have been responsible for outbreaks such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and the current novel coronavirus pandemic (originally called 2019-nCoV and now officially called COVID-19).

  5. There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection.

  6. Good personal hygiene and avoiding people with respiratory illness can reduce your chances of getting coronavirus.

Read more about COVID-19, Health Navigator NZ

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