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Coronavirus (COVID-19): FAQs

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

The XpertHR team has created a collection of Frequently Asked Questions, which will be continually updated as developments with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic unfold.

Topics covered include:

General Information

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A novel coronavirus (e.g., 2019-nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It is a newly identified type of coronavirus that causes the respiratory illness known as COVID-19.

How are coronaviruses transmitted?

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are typically transmitted between animals and people. However, some coronaviruses (e.g., 2019-nCoV) can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with a person showing symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g., coughing, sneezing).

What are the symptoms of a coronavirus infection?

It depends on the particular strain, but common signs of a person infected with a coronavirus include:

  • Respiratory symptoms;
  • Fever;
  • Cough;
  • Shortness of breath; and
  • Breathing difficulties.

In more severe cases, infection can cause:

  • Pneumonia;
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS);
  • Kidney failure; and
  • Death.

The symptomatology may change. The latest information can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Are employers allowed to require employees to leave work, or stay home, if they have symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that employees who become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 should leave the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not interfere with employers following this advice.

How should an employer handle an employee's absence from work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

An employer can enforce its existing policies that touch on an employee absence during a pandemic, such as: