COVID-19: A Quick Guide

Everything you need to know about COVID-19: the virus that causes it, the signs and symptoms, how to protect yourself, and additional resources to help protect yourself, your workplace, and your community

Published 20 Sep 2021

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019, formerly referred to as 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. It is caused by the coronavirus, a common family of viruses found around the world that can cause respiratory illness in both humans and animals. The most familiar disease caused by the coronavirus is the common cold, but there are also other strains that cause only mild respiratory disease. There are, however, at least two previously identified strains of the coronavirus that have caused severe illness—the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.

The coronavirus is a common virus found in camels, cattle, and certain species of animals and transmission to humans is quite rare. Although there are reports stating that bats are the likely culprit for this new coronavirus strain, a study suggests that it may have originated from pangolins.

Although the coronavirus is not a new type of virus, the strain that caused COVID-19 is one that has not been previously identified in humans. It remains unclear how the virus was first transmitted to humans, but its origins can be traced to an outbreak in a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province of China. The first COVID-19 cases were reported in December 2019. At present, COVID-19 continues to spread sustainably in the community and has reached “community spread” level. This indicates that the virus has been infecting people within an area, with some uncertain of how or where they were exposed or became infected.

What are the Symptoms?

COVID-19 typically presents with respiratory symptoms, fever, and cough. Severity of these symptoms have ranged from mild to severe, with some people reporting severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, with some reporting the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body ache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

How Does It Spread?

The most common way for COVID-19 to spread from person to person is through close physical contact. The virus is transmitted through tiny droplets that are expelled when a person breathes out or coughs. These droplets can then enter the nose or mouth of a non-carrier of the virus, consequently infecting him or her. Staying within a 6-foot radius of an infected person is considered close physical contact.

Droplets that contain the virus can also land on nearby objects or surfaces. By touching these surfaces, a person can pick up the various and likely infect themselves when they touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. COVID-19 is most contagious when its symptoms are at their peak, but even those without symptoms can spread the virus. A recent study shows that people that are asymptomatic or who present with no symptoms are responsible for 10% of infections. It should also be noted that COVID-19 is relatively new and, as such, research is still ongoing about the other ways that it can spread and what other symptoms it may cause.

How Can People Protect Themselves From COVID-19?

Curbing the spread of the virus has been a global challenge and has affected business and economies the world over. The best way to protect people from infection is by following the daily habits common to the prevention of other viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically suggest frequent washing of hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time, especially if a person was recently outside or in a public place. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol is recommended if soap isn’t available. People should also avoid touching their face without first washing or sanitizing their hands. Below are the ways people can help avoid the spread of COVID-19:

  • Avoid close physical contact with sick people.
  • Stay away from crowds and always keep your distance from people even if they aren’t sick.
  • Stay at home when sick or not feeling well.
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue or with your upper sleeve or elbow, and never with your hands.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Always wear a mask when in a public setting.
  • Always observe social distancing rules.

COVID-19 Checklists

Digital COVID-19 checklists are one of the ways to help protect the community from the further spread of the virus. In the face of an unfamiliar enemy, the best way to fight is to be prepared and have measures in place to protect against infection and to combat symptoms in case infection occurs. As businesses around the world struggle to keep their doors open and provide service to their customers, several have been forced to shutter their physical stores and shift to an online-only business model. Some, especially those without an eCommerce platform in place, haven’t been so lucky.

In an effort to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, iAuditor by SafetyCulture has created checklist templates for COVID-19. From workplace and home office inspections to family and self-assessments, the following checklists will help ensure that every measure is taken to prevent infection.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Inspection Checklist

This COVID-19 Checklist will help ensure that your organization has taken all the necessary preventative measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Checklist for Individuals and Families (CDC)

Based on a checklist template buy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this checklist focuses on how families and individuals can protect themselves and their community from being infected by COVID-19.

COVID-19 Risk Assessment Template

This assessment template shows how you can conduct your very own COVID-19 assessment in the workplace. Based on CDC guidelines, it ensures that you stay compliant with CDC regulations and that measures are put in place to address hazards and help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 Checklists for Businesses

The global pandemic has changed the way business is done because of various government restrictions and social distancing rules. Telecommuting or working from home is the new hustle, and setting up new policies and best practices is necessary to account for the changes in work arrangements. A workplace adaptability plan will help support employees during this difficult time and minimize the negative effects of this sudden change on the employees, employer, and their families. A flexible and agile approach is vital to accommodate remote teams and ensure continued productivity.

Because employees are working remotely or from home, there should be procedures and facilities available to identify potentially contagious individuals and isolate them when it comes time to return to the office. These include health monitoring systems and designated rooms for isolation purposes. The following resources will help get you started on managing a COVID-19 outbreak in your business.

COVID-19 Screening Checklist for Visitors and Employees

Use this checklist to ensure that the persons that enter and leave your site are free from infection or COVID-19 symptoms. Regular screening and assessment will help identify possible hazards and potential carriers so that measures can be taken to prevent further spread of the virus.

COVID-19 Cleaning and Personal Hygiene Inspection Checklist

To help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC has released guidelines for cleaning and hygiene for different sites and locations. This checklist will help keep workplaces compliant and empower cleaning and maintenance staff with the right steps in disinfection and cleaning to fight COVID-19.

Social Distancing Plan Template for Workspaces

Social distancing rules are important in effectively mitigating the spread of the coronavirus. This checklist details specific social distancing rules for the workplace and helps employers and staff conduct regular inspections to ensure rules are being followed.

Health and Safety Checklists

Health and safety checklists help encourage and enforce health and safety protocols in the workplace through regular inspections. Safety should always be a priority in the workplace regardless of whether there’s a pandemic or not. The health of the workers and visitors in the worksite should also be considered to ensure that working conditions are optimal and there are no underlying issues that could potentially cause long-term ill effects. Even if employees work in a relatively safe environment, employers should take the effort to identify and address physical and ergonomic hazards that often go unnoticed until serious health problems arise. The following checklists will help organizations get started with a regular health and safety inspection program.

Workplace Health and Safety Audit Checklist

Use this checklist to ensure that workplace health and safety (WHS) practices are followed. This will help ensure that the workplace has emergency procedures, first aid facilities, and PPE’s in place. Aside from identifying hazards, it will also help detect any health concerns and their causes so they can be addressed appropriately.

EHS Audit

Check the general safety of a worksite by conducting a visual inspection using this checklist. An EHS audit helps detect common hazards like electrical hazards, chemical exposure, and equipment hazards. It can also be used to check if work equipment are in good working condition, protecting the business from costly repairs and replacement.

OSHA Health and Safety Policy Template

This health and safety policy template follows OSHA regulatory standards and helps ensure the overall safety of the workplace. Based on OSHA guidelines, this template is divided into seven sections, namely:

  • Management leadership
  • Worker participation
  • Hazard identification
  • Hazard prevention
  • Education and training
  • Program evaluation
  • Communication and coordination

Get Started With the iAuditor Viral Infection App

“Flattening the curve” has been a catchphrase for 2020—the year COVID-19 became a global pandemic. With the unexpected speed of transmission around the world and the limited knowledge regarding the coronavirus, flattening the curve of transmission over time is the only way communities around the world have a chance of containing the pandemic. Some countries have been successful with their efforts, but some continue to be plagued by high occurrences and transmission rates of COVID-19.

The pandemic is on a global scale and it can only be fought through global cooperation. Working together to flatten the curve means adhering to strict guidelines, restrictions, and social distancing rules. Effective monitoring of safety protocols and policies is vital to ensure that everyone is doing their part. Through the iAuditor viral infection app, paperless hygiene and infection prevention inspections can be conducted anywhere in the world while also synchronizing data within the cloud. An intuitive dashboard can be accessed through any web browser, providing assistance to hospitals, clinics, workplaces, and any other organization.

SafetyCulture staff writer

Carlo Sheen Escano

Carlo Sheen Escano is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture based in Makati City, Philippines. Sheen has experience in digital marketing and has been writing for SafetyCulture since 2018. His articles mainly discuss risks in the workplace and well-known safety and quality processes used to mitigate them. Furthermore, Sheen is passionate about providing insights to global customers on how technology can help them to do the best work of their lives.

Carlo Sheen Escano is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture based in Makati City, Philippines. Sheen has experience in digital marketing and has been writing for SafetyCulture since 2018. His articles mainly discuss risks in the workplace and well-known safety and quality processes used to mitigate them. Furthermore, Sheen is passionate about providing insights to global customers on how technology can help them to do the best work of their lives.