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What are coronavirus symptoms?

The symptoms for coronavirus are similar to the flu or a cold. Symptoms can range in severity with some cases appearing to be like severe pneumonia.

SEATTLE — The 2019 novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and initial cases in the U.S. were primarily seen in people who had traveled internationally.

However, Washington state confirmed its first community acquired case Friday in a Mill Creek teen, and the first U.S. patient to die of coronavirus – a man in his 50s who was treated in Kirkland – also had no known international travel history. As coronavirus spreads, health officials say they expect to see more cases that aren't travel related.

Here's what you need to know about the symptoms of coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, and how it spreads.

RELATED: What to know about coronavirus in Washington after patient dies in Kirkland

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or a cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

The severity of symptoms ranges significantly. Some cases are very mild with symptoms similar to the common cold, and some cases are more like severe pneumonia that require hospitalization. Most deaths have been reported in older adults who had other health conditions, according to DOH.

Symptoms may appear as soon as two days after being exposed to the coronavirus or as long as 14 days after being exposed.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, health officials urged calling your health care provider or clinic and following their recommendations before going to the emergency room.

How coronavirus spreads

Coronavirus is most commonly spread through the air by sneezing and coughing. It can also be spread by close personal contact (within about 6 feet), such as touching or shaking hands, or touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

However, health officials say the risk to the general public is low.

RELATED: Are masks effective? Is it worse than the flu? Coronavirus Q&A with UW doctor

How to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Health officials say stopping the spread of coronavirus comes down to good hand hygiene and health practices.

People are urged to wash their hands frequently with soap and water and use hand sanitizer if handwashing isn't an option.

Avoid touching your face, mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed hands, and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

If you get sick, stay home from school or work to help keep others well, and avoid contact with someone who is sick.

A new Washington call center has been set up to answer your questions about COVID-19. If you have questions about how the virus spreads, what is being done in Washington state, or what you can do if you have symptoms, call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

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