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Hospitals across the U.S. are preparing to absorb an influx of patients. The virus can be present in individuals with no symptoms and severe symptoms, so there is some uncertainty on when exactly someone with symptoms seeks help.
Most cases of the virus are known to cause mild, coldlike symptoms, with the majority of those who test positive recovering over time, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
"If you are coughing, if you have a fever, if you feel tired, and you think that you have been exposed to COVID-19, stay at home," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Fox News earlier in March.
"We know that 80 percent of the people who are infected will have a mild disease that may go through — the person can go through the disease just by staying home and protecting others."
So when do you know it's time to get medical attention?
Reported symptoms for the virus include fever, cough or shortness of breath, and they may appear between two and 14 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Other symptoms may include a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion and aches, and pains or diarrhea, according to The Guardian.
if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever or one of the symptoms listed above, it's recommended to first call your healthcare provider for medical advice. They can usually determine what the next course of action may be.
This can limit the spread of the virus outside your home, protect healthcare workers and potentially help limit the influx of patients overwhelming hospitals — when more severe cases need to be prioritized.
There are however emergency warning signs listed by the CDC for COVID-19. In those cases, the agency says it's important you "get medical attention immediately."
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
"Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you have or think you might have, COVID-19," the CDC said. "If possible, put on a facemask before medical help arrives."
The agency added that this list is not all-inclusive and that you should consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe, concerning or getting worse. They may require a trip to the hospital.
About one in six people become seriously ill, according to the WHO. The elderly and people with underlying medical problems [high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, or chronic respiratory conditions], are at a greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19, the paper reported.
The agency also recommends seeking medical advice if you have been in close contact with someone know to have the virus or if you "live or have recently been in an area with an ongoing spread of COVID-19."
Fox News' Julia Musto contributed to this report.