CNN readers from around the world have asked more than 90,000 questions about coronavirus.
Here are the answers to some of the most popular questions:
Q: What’s so different about coronavirus that we have to shut down businesses? Why practice social distancing now, when we didn’t during the SARS and swine flu epidemics?
A: Unlike SARS and swine flu, the novel coronavirus is both highly contagious and especially deadly, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.
“SARS was also a coronavirus, and it was a new virus at the time,” Gupta said. “In the end, we know that SARS ended up infecting 8,000 people around the world and causing around 800 deaths. So very high fatality rate, but it didn’t turn out to be very contagious.”
The swine flu, or H1N1, “was very contagious and infected some 60 million people in the United States alone within a year,” Gupta said. “But it was far less lethal than the flu even — like 1/3 as lethal as the flu.”
What makes the novel coronavirus different is that “this is both very contagious … and it appears to be far more lethal than the flu as well,” Gupta said. “So both those things, in combination I think, are why we’re taking this so seriously.”
Q: Can coronavirus be transferred by people’s shoes? How do I protect children who crawl or play on the floor?
A: Yes, coronavirus can live on the soles of shoes, but the risk of getting Covid-19 from shoes appears to be low.
A report published by the CDC highlighted a study from a hospital in Wuhan, China, where this coronavirus outbreak began.
The soles of medical workers’ shoes were swabbed and analyzed, and the study found that the virus was “widely distributed” on floors, computer mice, trash cans and door knobs. But it’s important to note the study was done in a hospital, where the virus was concentrated.
It’s still possible to pick up coronavirus on the bottoms of your shoes by running errands, but it’s unlikely you’ll get sick from it because people don’t often touch the soles of their shoes and then their faces. Because Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, the CDC advises wearing a mask while in public and washing your hands frequently– the correct way.
If you have small children who crawl or regularly touch the floor, it’s a good idea to take your shoes off as soon you get home to prevent coronavirus or bacteria from spreading on the floors.
Q: Can you catch coronavirus more than once? Or does a person become immune or have long-term immunity to the virus?
A: It’s too early to know for sure. But other coronaviruses, like ones that cause the common cold, might give us clues.
With “common cold coronaviruses, you don’t actually have immunity that lasts for very long, and so we don’t know the answer with this specific coronavirus,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the New York University School of Medicine.
“That’s actually going to be one of the challenges with designing a vaccine is how do you actually cause the immunity to last long enough to protect you.”