COVID-19 is part of a large family of coronaviruses, some of which cause illness in people and others that circulate among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. This happened with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2014, and now COVID-19. These viruses may cause mild to severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, particularly those in persons with underlying severe and chronic health issues, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
COVID-19 is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.
The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, both globally and to Kenya. Individual risk remains dependent on exposure.
Protect yourself and others from infection by following these practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
While both isolation and quarantine refer to methods of preventing the spread of illness, they do not mean the same thing.
Isolation refers to separating people who are sick from those who are not sick.
Quarantine refers to separating people who are, or may have been, exposed to a pathogen, but are not showing signs of illness. Quarantine is used to make sure individuals are not contagious by minimizing contact with people who were not exposed during an illness’ incubation period—the time it takes for symptoms to emerge.
Social distancing is a term that epidemiologists use to refer to the conscious effort to reduce close contact between people, in an effort to reduce community transmission of a virus. Social distancing does not mean avoiding all activities. Examples of social distancing include:
The University has moved to a modified operational status that involves a combination of on-campus and remote work. Please confirm with your program leaders, head of departments and deans of various institutes for more information.