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Common Coronavirus Questions, Answered

Workers from a Servpro disaster recovery team wearing protective suits and re...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Workers from a Servpro disaster recovery team wearing protective suits and respirators wait outside before entering the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., to begin cleaning and disinfecting the facility, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, near Seattle.

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has spread to more than 100 countries and is now considered a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.

The outbreak, which began in China late last year, has infected more than 120,000 people worldwide and killed more than 4,300. The U.S. currently is reporting more than 1,000 cases.

As the world mobilizes to try and halt the spread of the virus, here is what you need to know about the virus, how it spreads, and what you can do to protect yourself.

What is coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a virus that can infect animals and humans. It causes a range of respiratory illness, fever, cough and in more severe cases can cause pneumonia and even death.

How contagious is it?

The virus appears to spread easily from person to person. The virus can also travel through the air when a person coughs or sneezes. Droplets can land in the mouths or noses of other people nearly or be inhaled into the lungs.

Where has the coronavirus spread?

The virus originated in Wuhan, China. It has since infected more than 121,000 people worldwide in at least 118 countries and more than 4,300 have died.

What are the symptoms?

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

How do I protect myself?

Currently, there is no vaccine or drug to combat the virus. The best way to protect yourself is to frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Staying home when sick and covering coughs and sneezes can also help prevent the spread of the virus.

How can I prepare for a possible outbreak?

Know what local organizations and government agencies can help you in the event of an outbreak. Stocking up on essential medicines and having essential household items on hand are also useful. It's also important to clean frequently touched surfaces regularly.

What if I’m traveling?

The C.D.C has advised against non-essential travel to travel destinations with level 3 travel notices, such as China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. The C.D.C also recommends against travel for older adults or people who have chronic medical conditions.

When will a vaccine or treatment be available?

Currently, there is no vaccine to protect against the virus and no medication approved to treat it, though some treatments are in development. A vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus is at least a year away.

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