The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. This virus — now being referred to as COVID-19 — was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China, and has spread to other international locations, including the United States.

Public health officials are working to identify the source of the 2019-nCoV. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Coronaviruses that infect people can cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold; however, some can cause severe illness, like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The complete clinical picture of 2019-nCoV is still not fully clear, with reported illnesses having ranged from infected people with little-to-no symptoms, to people becoming severely ill and dying.
The exact way the virus is spread is not fully known. And, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably 2019-nCoV is spreading between people. With similar coronaviruses, person-to-person spread is thought to have happened mainly by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes — similar to how influenza and other viruses cause respiratory illness to spread.

Transmission may also occur when a person touches a surface or object that has virus on it and then touches his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Because this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, new information about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing.
Coronavirus symptoms — like other respiratory illnesses — may include fever, muscle or body aches, sore throat and cough, fatigue, headaches and difficulty breathing. If you are sick with a respiratory illness, keep from spreading it to others:

Watch for symptoms
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you develop any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:
  • 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. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.
Although a very serious public health threat, the CDC believes the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general U.S. public is considered low. There is currently no vaccine to protect against 2019-nCoV. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Public health officials recommend everyone follow basic prevention guidelines to avoid spreading and contracting respiratory illnesses:
  • Try to get sufficient sleep, exercise regularly, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
  • Keep your hands clean and wash them frequently with soap and water. Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it when you cannot wash your hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve. When you use a tissue, throw it in the trash immediately. Do not use a handkerchief.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Do not share cups, straws, or anything else you put in your mouth (especially vaping devices).
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect surfaces that can be contaminated such as desks, phones, doorknobs, keyboards, etc.
In response to the growing public health threat, airlines have suspended flights to China for the time being.

The U.S. government has also imposed travel restrictions and screening and quarintine requirements for U.S. Citizens, as well as suspending entry for foreign-born persons who have been in China within the past 14 days.

Follow the CDC’s travel health notices or the U.S. State Department Travel Advisories.