All The Info Experts Want You To Have About Coronavirus

Since the illness was first discovered in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, the novel coronavirus, also called COVID-19, has now spread globally. Across continents, people are wondering if they have the coronavirus, even if they aren’t in a coronavirus-affected region. While it’s important to prepare for the possibility of the virus spreading, experts are urging caution and calm as public health officials work to contain the risk of contagion.

“The level of risk is different for each person,” Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician and assistant professor at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, previously told Bustle. “If you had a true, known exposure [to coronavirus], then you absolutely should not be going out in the community.” Otherwise, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself with information about COVID-19. Oh, and wash your hands.

How Does Coronavirus Spread?

The way coronavirus is spread is through respiratory droplets, or what comes out when you cough or sneeze. When an uninfected person comes in contact with these droplets — think touching an infected surface and then touching their face, nose, or mouth — they can become sick. Covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, or using then discarding tissues, can protect people around you from coming into contact with the virus. Washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water can also kill the germs in any droplets. (The same goes if you have the cold or flu, by the way.) The CDC recommends that only people who are already sick with coronavirus, confirmed or suspected, or who work in healthcare settings use face masks to protect against spreading or inhaling these droplets.

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How Many People Have Died From Coronavirus?

As of March 3, more than 90,000 people are confirmed infected with coronavirus worldwide, and more than 3,100 people have died from it, per CNN. The majority of these deaths occurred in China, where the virus originated. South Korea, Japan, Iran, and Italy also have clusters of the virus. In the U.S., six people have died from coronavirus, per Al Jazeera. The mortality rate of coronavirus is currently estimated at 2.3%; experts note that this number is likely lower, as many cases are so mild that people may not even think to test for it.

What Are The Symptoms Of Coronavirus?

The symptoms of coronavirus are cold-like and can include fever, shortness of breath, and cough. The World Health Organization (WHO) says some patients may also experience congestion, sore throat, or diarrhea. The vast majority of cases are mild, and may be indistinguishable from a cold or flu. Coronavirus can turn deadly when the initial respiratory virus causes difficulty breathing, causes pneumonia, sudden acute respiratory failure, or kidney failure; these complications are more likely among people who are elderly, pregnant, or immunocompromised.

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What You Should Know About Coronavirus If You’re Traveling

Global travel has been disrupted as more regions report coronavirus infections. The CDC is continually updating its list of countries affected by coronavirus. The CDC categorizes China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea as Level 3 Travel Health Notices, meaning it recommends avoiding any nonessential travel to those coronavirus-affected regions. U.S. citizens returning from China and Iran are subject to entry restrictions like mandatory quarantine, and foreign citizens returning from those regions are barred from entering the United States. For people returning from Italy or South Korea, local health officials, schools, or employers might recommend self-quarantine, where people isolate themselves at home for 14 days and monitor any potential symptoms.

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How To Help People Affected By Coronavirus

Coronavirus has impacted hundreds of thousands of people across the world who may have had to evacuate, quarantine, or shelter in place. Some areas in China are inundated with stray animals after owners were forced to abandon their pets while evacuating. And in areas that have yet to be severely affected by the virus itself, misinformation around coronavirus has spurred racist reactions against people of Asian descent. While the international response to the virus is still developing, experts say you can help people affected by both the virus and misinformation about it by donating to medical relief teams, practicing good hygiene, and countering any myths or hysteria about the virus.

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Where To Get Coronavirus Updates

As officials work to contain the virus, the global response is changing rapidly. Disruptions in supply chains led to a stock market bottom late in the week of February 24, and more and more companies are advising against non-essential business travel. With clusters of the virus in Japan and in Italy, there are also fears that the virus could disrupt the plans for the Summer 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, or the 2020 Venice Biennale. Locally, officials are working around the clock to keep people informed about the status of coronavirus in the United States. If you want regular updates on this news, you can sign up for The New York Times’ daily coronavirus newsletter or follow these curated Twitter accounts.

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How To Prepare For Coronavirus

The CDC cautioned on Feb. 25 that the United States should be prepared for an outbreak of coronavirus. For everyday consumers who aren’t at risk, experts suggest having enough supplies on hand — nonperishable food, cleaning supplies, medications — for two or so weeks. Two weeks is the incubation period for the virus, so if you are self-quarantining, having 14 days’ worth of supplies will ensure that you don’t need to go out to get more. If you’re not at risk of getting sick, having that amount on hand means you won’t need to leave your house, where you could potentially get exposed to the virus.

Can Your Pets Get Coronavirus?

Just as humans are concerned about spreading the virus among themselves, pet owners may also wonder if their pet can get coronavirus. Given that the coronavirus originated in animals, and one dog tested positive for the novel coronavirus, it’s not a far-fetched question. Experts say that while it’s unlikely that your pet can become infected, it’s always a best practice to wash your hands after touching an animal.

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