Diseases & Conditions

Coronavirus Patient Education

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels and bats. Most coronaviruses infect animals, but not people. Rarely, these coronaviruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans, as happened in the past.

Common human coronaviruses

Usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives.


  • 229E (alpha coronavirus)
  • NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
  • OC43 (beta coronavirus)
  • HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

Symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever and a general feeling of being unwell

How do you get infected (Transmission)?

The air by coughing and sneezing, and by close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands. These viruses may also spread by touching contaminated objects or surfaces then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Cleaning your hands often and when indicated during patient care.
  • Not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, and avoiding close contact and crowded places.
  • No need to wear a mask unless you are coughing and sneezing.

2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

In the past, two human coronaviruses, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) have been known to frequently cause severe illnesses and attracted public health attention. On 31st December 2019, another human coronavirus, named as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.

Symptoms may include:

  • Mild to severe respiratory illness
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

How do you get infected (Transmission)?

Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. It is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Clean your hands often by washing or using alcohol based hand rub
  • Don’t not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Use cough etiquette, always sneeze into a tissue or your elbow – clean your hands afterwards
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick and crowded places

If you have any of the symptoms above and travelled to China within the last 14 days or were in close contact with a person known or suspected to be positive for Coronavirus you should:

  • Go to your local Emergency Department - (If possible phone ahead and tell the hospital you will be arriving)
  • Ensure you maintain cough etiquette – cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Limit contact with others as much as possible

© Copyright 2023 Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of the M42 group, and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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