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Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that mainly cause lung diseases. The name of the current coronavirus is SARS-COV-2, and the disease that it causes is called COVID-19.

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new continuous cough
  • A loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell

Other symptoms may be present, but testing and public health decisions are based on these three symptoms.

Diarrhoea/vomiting in children during this season is most commonly associated with viral gastroenteritis, though it may also be a minor symptom of CVOID-19. At this point, diarrhoea and vomiting are not included in the symptoms which are required to obtain a test for COVID-19. If a child has symptoms of diarrhoea/vomiting they must be excluded from school until 48 hours after their symptoms resolve.

Disease Course

Understanding the course of the disease can help us to reduce its spread. There are a few key time periods that you should know about:

  • Incubation period: the time when a person is infected but not showing any symptoms - for COVID-19, this is usually 5-6 days, but can be between 1-14 days
  • Infectious period: the time when a person who has COVID-19 can infect others - for COVID-19, this is –
  • from 2 days before symptom onset, to 10 days after symptom onset
  • from 2 days before the test until 10 days after for asymptomatic people who test positive

A person is no longer infectious if 10 days have passed from symptom onset and their symptoms have resolved (including being fever free for 48 hours). An ongoing cough or continued loss of taste or smell is not a sign of infection and may continue for several weeks after infection.

COVID-19 tests may remain positive for up to 6 weeks. This does not mean that someone is infectious, but if their symptoms re-start they would need to self-isolate and get tested again.


Transmission occurs from person to person after the virus is released from a person who is infected. It can then be transmitted to another person directly through the air, or indirectly by resting on a surface that another person touches.

We can break the chain of infection and keep protecting each other by remembering "hands, face, space":

Hands: wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water

Face: use a face covering when social distancing is not possible

Space: try to keep your distance from those not in your household