What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It affects your lungs, airways and other organs.
Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold. Other recent diseases caused by coronaviruses include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
SARS-CoV-2 was first recognised in China and likely originated in animals. It is still unclear how the virus came to infect humans. The disease spread to other countries, with the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a pandemic on 11 March 2020.
The virus has since undergone genetic mutations over time as it adapts to humans. Some of these mutations, such as the Delta variant, can spread more easily than the original virus.
Variants of COVID-19
It is a natural process for viruses to change or mutate, which may produce variants. Variants are developing around the world. This tends to happen in places where the virus is out of control.
WHO is tracking variants of concern and variants of interest.
Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants | WHO website(external link)
Variants of COVID-19 may affect how fast the virus spreads, or how sick people get from the virus.
The current variants of concern are:
- Alpha — first found in the United Kingdom
- Beta — first found in South Africa
- Gamma — first found in Brazil
- Delta — first found in India
- Omicron — first found in South Africa.
The Ministry of Health is providing updates on these variants.
COVID-19: About the Delta variant(external link)
COVID-19: About the Omicron variant(external link)
The symptoms of COVID-19 are like common illnesses such as the cold or flu. Some people will only experience mild to moderate symptoms. Older people, ethnic minorities, and those with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk of severe illness from the virus.
Some people who have had the virus are suffering health impacts longer than a few weeks or months. This is commonly referred to as Long COVID.
Symptoms of COVID-19 and Long COVID
For accurate and reliable advice about COVID-19 vaccination, including vaccination for children and people who are pregnant, and information about the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, visit the link below;
There is support and advice available if you test positive for COVID-19 and need to self-isolate.This includes conversations with a health professional, contact tracers and deciding what support you need.
Click the link below for further information and assistance: