TIME

As coronavirus spreads, so do questions

THOUGH IT MAY FEEL AS IF WE’VE BEEN living with COVID-19 for a lifetime, that’s partly because things are moving so fast. It took about a week from when the World Health Organization (WHO) received reports of a novel coronavirus for Chinese scientists to sequence its genetic blueprint and just weeks more for labs to develop a test that could accurately identify it. Yet scientists are still scrambling for basic information that will be key to designing an effective public-health plan—including how fast the virus spreads and how often infections are deadly. Here’s some of what we know so far.

How is COVID-19 actually transmitted—and how can I protect myself?

First, definitions: a coronavirus is called novel because it’s new and the human body has no immunity to it. SARS-CoV-2 is the technical name of this one. COVID-19 is the disease it causes.

The virus is spread by coughs or sneezes, which release virus-containing respiratory droplets into the air, where they could be inhaled by others or land on mouths or noses, if people happen to be within

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