How is COVID-19 transmitted?

COVID-19 is a SARS Coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. It was first discovered in wild animals, and crossed over to humans, which makes it easy to transmit amongst ourselves.  Wuhan has eleven million people, and is a commerce and transportation epicenter.  Because of the large size of the city, its amount of people movement, and COVID-19’s delayed symptoms, the spreading (or “seeding”) of the virus was increased.

It is often referred to as the novel coronavirus, and is called this because it’s new.  We have not seen it before, and there is currently no vaccine or medicinal therapy available to treat it. The World Health Organization has given this new Coronavirus the official name of COVID-19, which is how we will refer to it in this information session.

The individual with the first reported case became ill on December 1, 2019 and had been hospitalized with pneumonia of an unknown cause. It was first reported as a novel Coronavirus to the World Health Organization (WHO) Office in China on December 31, 2019.

The World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and health organizations across the globe named it COVID-19 and are closely monitoring it.  The COVID-19 outbreak was declared a public health emergency on January 30, 2019 by WHO, and on March 11, 2020, WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

A pandemic is the term given to an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area, and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population. Even though the number of people infected per country per million doesn’t appear to be very high, it’s still much higher than most diseases.  And because COVID-19 has spread across the globe so quickly, it has created many cases of the illness.   Therefore, it’s considered a pandemic.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness, and can affect lung function causing breathing difficulty in some people, especially in the elderly and those with reduced lung function.

The transmission of COVID-19 can occur through person-to-person contact. The question is, what is the peak time for transmission – before any signs of symptoms (asymptomatic) or when a person is symptomatic? It could take up to 14 days after exposure before symptoms appear and can be transmitted to others by a person who is infected but asymptomatic.

There is an increased risk of becoming infected and spreading the virus if you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Contact tracing can help slow the spread of the virus. It is a way to quickly identify and inform those who may be infected and contagious so they can take the steps needed to not infect others.