If you've caught the headlines recently, you're probably wondering to what extent coronavirus is going to shake up your day-to-day life. So far, it seems inevitable that the threat will continue to increase across the U.S. over the coming weeks—with a growing number of cases reported in multiple states.
Because there's no such thing as a dumb question, we put together this handy FAQ page to offer help, tips and perspective on coronavirus. Also, it doesn't hurt to stay current on the official advice, as detailed below. Stay up to date with our guide to the latest coronavirus guidance and developments.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that started in animals and is now being transmitted between humans. The symptoms include coughs, fever, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. First identified in Wuhan, China, the virus has now infected thousands of people across the globe.
How bad is coronavirus?
Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine (yet), and recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. In severe cases, the virus may cause pneumonia and/or organ failure.
Compared to SARS (another coronavirus that hit headlines in 2003), the mortality rate of COVID-19 is low: around 3.4 percent according to the latest World Health Organization estimate. This is, however, significantly higher than regular seasonal flu, which is fatal in around 0.1 percent of cases. So far, COVID-19 also appears to be more contagious than seasonal flu.
The elderly and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are most likely to develop a severe illness relating to COVID-19. The death rate is 10 times higher among the very elderly compared with the middle-aged, according to the WHO. Children are less likely to be affected.
Which countries have been worst hit by coronavirus?
Although the majority of cases (just under 70 percent) have been in China, there have also been serious outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran. You can keep track of the spread of the disease on this map created by Johns Hopkins University. The WHO advises against travelling to areas experiencing ongoing transmission of COVID-19.
How will coronavirus affect my day-to-day life?
First: don’t panic. Second: be safe.
The spread of the virus outside China wasn’t unexpected, and governments have been making plans and issuing advice.
The CDC advises calling a medical professional if you develop symptoms and are aware you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, or have recently travelled to one of the above areas. For the time being, most people should to avoid gathering in large groups and practice social distancing as much as possible.
What New York events have been cancelled due to coronavirus?
All restaurants, bars, theaters, clubs and movie theaters are now closed. We're keeping a running list of cancelled New York events, but it's probably best to call ahead if you've got questions. You can find more coverage of cultural things to do in the city during these unprecedented times at our Time In hub.