Scientists are still scrambling to fully understand the virus, which they confirmed this week could be passed from human to human.
They also believe that the virus, which can cause pneumonia, may have spread to humans from snakes or bats.
What to look out for
- Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, after travelling to Wuhan or having close contact with someone who was ill and is now under investigation for the virus in the past two weeks.
- Fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness after having close contact in the past two weeks with someone who’s been confirmed to have the virus.
The CDC defined “close contact” as being within about 6 feet (1.8 m) “or within the room or care area” of a person with the coronavirus for a prolonged period without appropriate protective clothing, or “having direct contact with infectious secretions” of a person with the virus without protective clothing.
The agency said close contact could include “caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room” with a person with the virus.
If you have travelled to Wuhan recently and feel any of these symptoms, you should “seek medical care right away,” call ahead to tell your doctor about your travel and symptoms and avoid contact with other people.
Who is at most risk?
Coronaviruses like 2019-nCoV are particularly dangerous for people who have weaker immune systems, like young children and older adults.
There are no vaccines to protect people from contracting a coronavirus. Pets are also at risk of catching coronaviruses, which can lead to disease and even death.
The source of the Wuhan virus outbreak was identified as a market that sold seafood and live animals like wolves and civet cats. The Chinese government closed the market on January 1.
How to protect yourself
Here are suggestions for how to protect yourself from the virus while travelling:
- Try to avoid contact with people who display symptoms similar to those of pneumonia or the common cold, like coughing or a runny nose.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when possible.
- Avoid animals and animal markets.