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What is COVID-19 and how does it spread?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus, which can cause illness in humans and animals. Those who have become sick are reported to develop cough, fever, breathing difficulties and tiredness. In severe cases, organ failure has been reported.

  • What experts know about COVID-19, a relatively new virus, is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. The World Health Organization named this illness “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated COVID-19).
  • Person-to-person: The CDC says that the virus is spread mainly from person-to-person, which means those who are in close contact with one another, and/or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • CDC officials say that it is possible a person can contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or an object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes, but they said this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
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