Separating the facts from fiction

CoronavirusThe disease

Coronavirus disease - 19 (caused by SARS-CoV-2)


2–14 days after exposure


Fever and/or dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath


Asymptomatic to severe viral pneumonia

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  • Taking into account undiagnosed cases, experts estimate actual mortality to be around 1% (compared with flu ~0.1%, SARS 10% and MERS 34%)
  • Most severe cases weighted heavily towards the elderly (>80 years) and those with pre-existing conditions
  • Transmission appears to be more containable than flu, with current travel restrictions in place/contact tracing and social distancing

Preventing spread

If well and to prevent inadvertently contracting the virus: 

  • Regular hand hygiene 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if you have not washed your hands 
  • Regularly wipe down surfaces exposed to sick people 
  • While the wearing of masks by non-clinical healthcare workers and the general population has been controversial, there is evidence that they can limit viral transmission significantly when used appropriately
  • Focus on maintaining good health (healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and leisure/relaxation with regular breaks from constant news feeds)

If unwell and to prevent transmission to others:

  • Good cough/sneeze etiquette – into tissues, then wash hands or into elbow/upper arm 
  • Stay at home if not completely well (and practise ‘social distancing, that is, stay at least 1.5 metres away from others, avoid crowds etc) 


  • Currently symptomatic/supportive treatment only 
  • Trials of antivirals in progress (remdesivir and ritonavir/lopinivir) 
  • Vaccine still likely at least 12–18 months before ready 
  • Obtain influenza vaccine to prevent concurrent flu and coronavirus infection


Last updated: 14 August 2020