General Coronoavirus Facts

  • COVID-19 is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
  • The exact way the virus is spread is not fully known. With similar coronaviruses (MERS and SARS), person-to-person spread is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other viruses that cause respiratory illness spread. There also may be some spread when a person touches a surface or object that has virus on it and then touches his or her own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. Spread of SARS and MERS between people generally has occurred between close contacts. There is much more to learn about COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
  • There are simple everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.