The medical impact of the new coronavirus is coming into sharper focus as it continues its spread in what is now officially recognized as a pandemic.
Its true fatality rate isn't yet known, but it seems 10 times higher than the flu, which kills hundreds of thousands around the world each year, the United States' top infectious disease expert told lawmakers last week.
Most people have had mild to moderate illness and recovered, but the virus is more serious for those who are older or have other health problems.
That's a huge number, said Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now heads a global health organization. In the U.S., 60% of adults have at least one underlying health condition and 42% have two or more.
"There's still a lot that we don't know" about the virus and disease it causes, COVID-19, he said.
HOW IT SPREADS
Most spread is from droplets produced when an infected person coughs, which are inhaled by people nearby. Transmission from touching contaminated surfaces hasn't been shown yet, though recent tests by U.S. scientists suggest it's possible -- one reason they recommend washing your hands and not touching your face.
The virus can live in the air for several hours, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Cleaning surfaces with solutions containing diluted bleach should kill it.