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The virus spreads from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth via coughing or sneezing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It can persist on most surfaces up to several days, so in addition to directly inhaling the virus, you can become infected by touching something that has been contaminated and then touching your own nose, mouth or eyes. There is some evidence that virus particles in the feces of an infected person can transmit the disease through contact, but that remains unconfirmed.
As of March 28, there have been 662,751 cases reported worldwide, of which more than 141,917 have recovered and more than 30,751 have died. Some researchers estimate that up to 80% of people who are infected show no or only mild symptoms and may not even know they are sick. That would put the number of people who might have been infected in the millions. But we need many more studies and much more testing to close in on a more accurate number.
Younger people, while less vulnerable, can still develop COVID-19 - the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus - severe enough to require hospitalization. Just how much safer they are is still unanswered. The WHO says older people with pre-existing conditions—such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease—appear to develop serious illness more often than others, while a U.S. health official said the mortality rate in males appears to be twice that of women in every age group. Health officials have cautioned that anyone with those underlying conditions, as well as those with weakened immune systems, are at increased risk.
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No. So far there are no vaccines or antiviral medicines specific to the new coronavirus. Treatment for now focuses on relieving symptoms such as breathing assistance. Companies around the world are racing to develop vaccines. A few have launched early safety testing in humans, but experts say it could take a year or more to develop and test a vaccine. Another complication: viruses can mutate quickly. Some scientists have already identified subtle changes since SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan, China, in December. But recent studies show the virus is relatively stable, which suggests vaccines should still be effective when they become available.
Some experts had hoped that the onset of summer will naturally slow the virus. But the European Centre for Disease Control said on March 25 that it is unlikely to diminish its spread. The WHO has also said that the virus can be transmitted in all areas, including hot and humid climates.
We don’t know. It will depend on a range of factors, from how long people continue to isolate and avoid group gatherings to when effective drugs or a vaccine become available. President Donald Trump said this week that he hopes to “reopen” the U.S. economy by Easter Sunday on April 12. But he has faced criticism that such a timetable is too rushed and could lead to more people dying. In Hubei province, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak, life started returning to normal this week after two months of lockdown. It remains to be seen whether such a return to normal spurs another outbreak
Viruses enter the body and infect cells, using them as factories to make many millions of copies of themselves, so the number of virus particles that first enter the body has little effect on the eventual amount of virus in the system. At the same time, more frequent exposure does increase the chance that the virus will enter the body in the first place.