According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019 novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, is a virus which has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness, that was first detected in Wuhan, China.

When first detected, according to the CDC, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China, reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. But, according to the CDC, since then, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, which now indicates that person-to-person spread is occurring.

The CDC does not know at this time how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.

How is COVID-19 transmitted? 

According to the CDC, there is still not much known about COVID-2019, the new coronavirus, and current knowledge is based on other types of coronavirus. While it is unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people, viruses that spread from person-to-person happen among close contacts — about six feet.

Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread, according to the CDC. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, according to the CDC.

Should people wear facemasks to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19? 

No, the CDC does not recommend that people who are not sick wear facemasks to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. According to the CDC, someone should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. Facemasks should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms in order to protect others from the risk of getting infected. Misusing masks can deplete resources for those who become sick, as well as those in healthcare settings.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the CDC, confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19? 

No, there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.