The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been spreading globally after it was first reported in December in Wuhan, China.

The disease presents symptoms in its respiratory tract, and can progress to bronchitis or pneumonia. Individuals with weakened immune systems, children and the elderly are at a heightened risk.

The number of reported cases has risen to over 80,000 worldwide and the death toll is around 3,000, making the mortality rate about 3%. For reference, the average influenza mortality is less than 1% and the Sars outbreak in 2003 had a mortality rate of 10%.

The majority of deaths have been in China and were mainly individuals already in poor health.

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Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC states that symptoms typically present themselves two to 14 days after exposure.

Recommendations on how to prevent sickness are similar to that of other illnesses: avoid contact with sick individuals, wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face and regularly disinfect household items.

If you suspect you are sick with COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you stay home and call a health care professional. Mention to your healthcare professional if you traveled to China or were in contact with someone who had traveled to high-risk areas in the last two weeks.

The CDC also recommends that infected individuals wear face masks to prevent the virus from spreading and call ahead before going to any medical facility.

In the U.S., six states have confirmed Coronavirus cases: Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin.

All except for one of the 60 reported cases could be directly traced to travel to China or direct contact with travelers. One individual in California is being treated as a case of “community spread,” as the patient has no known exposure to the virus or travel history.

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