What everyone needs to know about the coronavirus outbreak in China

Health authorities are closely watching an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new virus that originated in China. Governments are stepping up surveillance of airline passengers from central China and taking other steps to try to control the outbreak.

Here’s what you should know about the illness:

Scientists have identified it as a new coronavirus. The name comes from the Latin word for crowns or halos, which coronaviruses resemble under a microscope. The coronavirus family has many types that affect people. Some cause the common cold while others originating in bats, camels and other animals have evolved into more severe illnesses such as SARS — severe acute respiratory syndrome — or MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome.

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