Novel Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

The virus is related to the MERS and SARS viruses, but is thought to be a new strain.

By Barrett White


To begin, the situation is not cause for a panic. While there is no vaccine for this new strain of virus, the symptoms are not thought to be deadly if treated early.

What We Know About the Virus: Though it is gaining lots of media attention for being an unknown virus new to humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the risk of this virus to the US general public is LOW.

So far, the novel coronavirus, which was first seen in Wuhan, China in December 2019, appears to be milder than SARS or MERS. MERS killed about a third of those infected, while SARS resulted in the deaths of about one-tenth of those infected. The death rate from the coronavirus is hanging steady at roughly 3% of those infected. The patients who have died were over 60 years old, had other health issues, and weren’t admitted to a hospital until their illness was already at an advanced stage.

You can lower your risk of getting coronavirus by following these guidelines:

  • Wash 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
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home while you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What about travel to Wuhan, China or other countries where cases of coronavirus have been reported?

  • The CDC has recommended that people do not travel to Hubei Province, China, including Wuhan. Learn more here: Level 3 Travel Health Notice
  • The CDC has also recommended that people do not travel to the rest of China. Learn more here: Level 1 Travel Health Notice
  • The CDC also recommends that people traveling to other parts of China protect their health by avoiding contact with sick people, avoiding animals (alive or dead) and animal markets, and washing their hands often.
  • Continue to check back as the situation may change.


If you have questions about coronavirus, visit the CDC website or contact your health care provider. You may also visit Harris Health.