A study published by the Lancet reported that as of Jan. 2, 2020 the most common symptoms at onset of illness were fever [98%], cough [76%], and myalgia, or fatigue [44%]. Less common symptoms were sputum production [28%], headache [8%], haemoptysis (coughing up blood) [5%], and diarrhea [3%].

One distinguishing feature of this Coronavirus infection, named COVID-19, is dyspnoea or shortness of breath, which has been reported in more than half of patients [55%]. It can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days for symptoms to develop, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Treatment or vaccine for the Coronavirus?

There currently are neither vaccines nor direct treatments against the novel Coronavirus. Upon admission to hospitals patients are provided with supportive therapies to help with symptom relief until the immune system can fight the virus.


How can I stay healthy?

While the CDC reports that the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, they recommend that everyone do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat. Because people of all ages have been infected by COVID-19, the WHO advises everyone to take proper infection control precautions. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Stay informed!
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze (ideally with a disposable tissue).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Do not place your personal belongings on the floor or on surfaces that may be contaminated.

What should you do if you think you are infected?

If you feel sick with fever, cough, have difficulty breathing, and have traveled to China or were in close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the 14 days before you began to feel sick, seek medical care immediately.

Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.


“Clinical Features of Patients Infected with 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan, China”

Webcast: Updates on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) for Water Professionals

This webcast, organized by WEF's Disinfection and Public Health Committee (DPHC), is a collaboration between WEF and WRF, and will provide the most up-to-date information available on COVID-19 from some of the most reputable names in infectious disease control and emergency response. It will highlight virus ecology, transmission, control, epidemiology, government agency response, and specific impacts for the water community. Speakers will provide the audience with additional resources and published recommendations, as we continue to learn more about and respond to this ongoing outbreak.

view the webcast recording

Authors & Acknowledgements

This article was prepared by the WEF Disinfection and Public Health Committee’s (DPHC) Waterborne Infectious Disease Outbreak Control (WIDOC) Working Group.

  • Rasha Maal-Bared is the Senior Microbiologist at EPCOR Water Services Inc. (Edmonton, Canada) and the current chair of the Waterborne Infection Disease Outbreak Control Working Group.
  • Robert Bastian is a senior environmental scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Kyle Bibby is an Associate Professor and the Wanzek Collegiate Chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Ind.).
  • Kari Brisolara is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (New Orleans, La.) and Vice Chair of the WEF Disinfection and Public Health Committee.
  • Lee Gary is an Adjunct Professor at Tulane University, an instructor with the Basic Academy at the FEMA/Emergency Management Institute (Emmitsburg, Md.) and the owner and CEO of Strategic Management Services (New Orleans).
  • Chuck Gerba is a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the Dept of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona and a supporting member of the WIDOC working group.
  • Lola Olabode is a Program Director at the Water Research Foundation and an expert in risk management during outbreaks (Washington, D.C.).
  • Naoko Munakata is a Supervising Engineer at the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts.
  • Robert S. Reimers is a Professor Emeritus at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, the Director of Asepticys Inc. (New Orleans, La.).
  • Albert Rubin is a professor emeritus at North Carolina State University in the Dept of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
  • Scott Schaefer is the Wastewater Practice Leader with AE2S (Saint Joseph, Minn.) and the Chair of the WEF Disinfection and Public Health Committee.
  • Samendra Sherchan is an Assistant Professor at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (New Orleans, La.).
  • Jay Swift is a Principal Engineer with Gray and Osborne (Seattle, Wash.).

The authors would like to thank Matthew Arduino (CDC, DDID), Christopher K. Brown (OSHA), Matthew Magnuson (U.S. EPA), Jonathan Yoder (CDC, DDID), and Jill Shugart (CDC, NIOSH) for their comments and feedback. (Note: The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by the authors contributing to this piece do not reflect the official position of OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. EPA, or the authors' affiliated institutions.)

More Resources on Coronavirus

Resources on Coronavirus


How Can I Stay Informed?

The organizations below are reputable and reliable sources that are frequently updated.

 World Health Organization (WHO)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

In an effort to increase transparency and communication, major publishers have created Coronavirus information centers, where relevant and current research is freely available. This includes Springer Nature, Elsevier and Wiley. Several major journals have done the same, including: The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine and The British Medical Journal.