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COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019. It is a respiratory illness that is passed from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new coronavirus first detected in China.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common throughout the world. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new and different type of coronavirus.
COVID-19 can spread from close contact with an infected person. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (within 6 feet) or may possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
The virus may also be spread when a person touches a surface with the virus and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus may live on surfaces for a few days.
Anyone can get COVID-19. The illness is spread person-to-person. In other words, anyone can develop COVID-19 after coming in close contact with someone infected with the virus. The virus may also be spread when a person touches a surface with the virus and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness (a cold or the flu) caused by a virus. The main symptoms are fever, fatigue, and cough. Some patients may have breathing problems, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, or loss of the sense of smell or taste. Symptoms usually develop 2-12 days after exposure to the virus.
Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms. Some people may have the virus and not show any symptoms at all. Children seem to be less affected than older adults, based on initial results from China.
In some cases, people with COVID-19 become very ill. COVID-19 can cause pneumonia, severe breathing problems, and even death. Although not as common, warning signs of severe illness are:
No. In fact, children seem to be at lower risk for serious illness due to COVID-19. This is based on initial results from other countries. This does not mean that children don’t get COVID-19. But the risk of severe illness in children is generally lower.
Based on what is currently known, the highest risk for complications with COVID-19 is seen in older adults and patients with chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, lung problems, or people with weak immune systems.
Families with children who have weakened immune systems due to an illness or medical condition should take extra care to prevent exposure to the virus. If symptoms develop, contact your doctor right away.
Cancer and cancer treatments can weaken the immune system. This means that a child with cancer is often at higher risk for infection and illness.
In general, cancer can lower immunity and make it harder to fight infection in different ways:
We don’t know for sure if there is increased risk of severe illness in COVID-19 for pediatric cancer patients with weakened immune systems. But it’s possible that more severe illness could occur, so it is recommended to take precautions and watch carefully at this time.
If your child has a weak immune system or chronic health condition, it is important to plan ahead and take steps to prevent illness.
Other ways to protect yourself and others from illness include:
For more information see the CDC Information for People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19.
Reviewed: March 2020