At this time, there are two ways COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is thought to spread:
- Person-to-person: Between people in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), for significant periods of time, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Contact with infected surfaces or objects: A person can conceivably get COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, with severity ranging from mild to severe illness. In other coronaviruses, common signs of infection include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell. Currently, if you haven't traveled to an infected region where there is community spread or been in close contact with someone known to have the virus, your risk is very low.
The CDC has developed these guidelines to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposure COVID-19 (novel coronavirus):
- For the general American public in areas where there are no reports of community spread, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is considered low.
- People in communities where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) has been reported are at an elevated, though still relatively low, risk of exposure.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) are at elevated risk of exposure if they’re not wearing correct personal protective equipment.
- People in close contact with persons with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.