The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory virus that can be easily spread from person to person. COVID-19 spreads through an infected person’s small droplets that land on another person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, or a surface that is then touched by someone.
The best preventive measure against the virus is to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Dana-Farber strongly encourages all patients to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones, even if you were previously infected with the virus.
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (please note that this list does not include all possible symptoms):
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, the CDC encourages you to get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
This list is not all inclusive. The CDC urges you to consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
How are these symptoms different from symptoms of the flu, common cold, or allergies?
Cold and allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy eyes
- Stuffy nose
The flu and coronavirus share some similar symptoms that tend to affect the whole body, including:
- Body aches
- Worsening symptoms
COVID-19 includes some differentiating symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Additionally, COVID-19 symptoms can be linked to a recent history of travel or proximity to high-risk areas and other possible exposures.
How should I take preventive measures?
The best preventive measure against the virus is to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Authorized vaccines are widely available across the country and essential to fighting the spread of the virus. Visit the CDC website to find out more information on the vaccines available, their differences, and which one may work best for your needs. To find a vaccination location near you, go to vaccines.gov.
The CDC says that fully vaccinated individuals can partake in all normal pre-pandemic activities. If you are not vaccinated, you need to continue to maintain social distancing, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and wear a mask.
Please remember that even vaccinated persons must still comply with restrictions at health care facilities like Dana-Farber. Cancer centers such as ours see patients who are more vulnerable than the general public, so our steps to prevent infection need to be stronger here than other settings.
When do I need to call my doctor?
You should call your healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms. If you are mildly ill with COVID-19 symptoms or confirmed COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you stay at home during your illness to help prevent spreading the disease to other people.
When should I get tested for COVID-19?
If you have symptoms of a possible COVID-19 infection, ask your healthcare provider or hospital how to get tested. It is best to first ask your doctor about testing before going.
“They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home,” the CDC says.
How is Dana-Farber keeping people safe during COVID-19?
Dana-Farber has a number of protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of everyone who comes to our facilities. Measures include:
- COVID-19 screenings: All persons entering Dana-Farber are screened for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms before they can enter the facility.
- Universal mask policy: All patients, visitors, and employees are provided a surgical mask when they arrive at Dana-Farber. These masks must be worn throughout their entire visit.
- Physical distancing: All of our facilities comply with physical distancing recommendations, with plexiglass barriers at check-in desks.
- Limiting foot traffic: Dana-Farber restricts all incoming visitors. Appointments are being staggered to limit the number of people in each building, ensuring that elevators, waiting rooms, and all clinical and non-clinical areas are not over-crowded.
- Additional cleaning: Environmental Services staff members work around-the-clock to reach every inch of our facilities. Exam rooms are cleaned and wiped down after each use, numerous sanitation stations have been installed, and “high-touch” areas including handrails and elevator buttons are cleaned and disinfected regularly.