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COVID-19 in Washington: Links and resources to help you during coronavirus pandemic

The deadly new coronavirus has reached the US. Here’s how to protect yourself

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What started as a mystery virus last month in Wuhan, China, has now killed at least 17 people and infected hundreds more around the world.

In the US, the first case of Wuhan coronavirus was confirmed Tuesday in Washington state -- stoking fears of an outbreak in this country.

So what are officials doing in the US, and how can you minimize your risk?

What airports are doing

Passengers from Wuhan to the United States -- either on direct or indirect flights -- will soon only be allowed to land at one of the five US airports.

Three of those US airports -- John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport -- are already checking those incoming passengers for symptoms such as fever, cough and trouble breathing.

By the end of this week, two more airports will screen passengers -- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

But these airport screenings might not catch everyone infected. That's because the incubation period can last a week -- meaning it can take a week after getting infected before showing any symptoms.

What scientists are doing

Across the US, scientists are trying to create a vaccine for the new virus. But don't expect it anytime soon.

The National Institutes of Health is working on one, but it will take at least a few months before clinical trials start and more than a year until a vaccine might actually become available.

Separately, scientists in Texas, New York and China are also trying to create on a vaccine, Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

But the challenge is daunting.

"The lesson we've learned is coronavirus infections are serious and one of the newest and biggest global health threats," Hotez said.

What you can do yourself

Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, the World Health Organization says.

Other symptoms of this coronavirus include fever and shortness of breath. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.

Scientists believe this coronavirus started in another animal and then spread to humans. Health officials recommend cooking meat and eggs thoroughly and washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

If you're the one feeling sick, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch.

If you or your doctor suspect you might have the Wuhan coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises wearing a surgical mask.

What could happen next

The World Health Organization is having an emergency meeting Wednesday to decide whether any global recommendations should be made.

Such recommendations could include cross-border screening, increased surveillance or even quarantine measures for those affected, similar to quarantine rules already in place in China.

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