How do we get infected?
How can we protect ourselves?

This is part 2 of our coronavirus FAQ. Click here to read the other installments: #Coronavirus the facts. Find the latest information and answers from experts on everything COVID-19.

Q: How do people get infected?

Experts believe the new coronavirus is transmitted by droplets or contact with a contaminated surface, just like with seasonal flu or the common cold. Droplets are spread primarily when infected people cough or sneeze. Contaminated surfaces include doorknobs or the hanging straps of train cars. The coronavirus is believed to have about the same degree of infectiousness as seasonal flu.

Q: How can we protect ourselves?

The basic measures for the prevention of coronavirus infection are the same as for the seasonal flu: Wash your hands and be careful when you cough.

When washing hands, use soap and wash up to your wrists with running water for at least 20 seconds. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

When coughing, cover your nose and mouth with tissue paper or your sleeve.

Other effective measures include avoiding crowded places, and when staying indoors, opening windows to keep the room ventilated.

In Japan, each rail company is setting its own policy on whether to open the windows of packed passenger cars. Experts say the cars are already ventilated to a certain degree because the doors open at stations.

Q: Should we disinfect our clothes?

Erisa Sugawara of the Japanese Society for Infection Prevention and Control says there's no need to use alcohol disinfectants on clothes. She says most viruses get washed away from clothes with a regular wash, though this has yet to be proven with the new coronavirus.

Sugawara recommends soaking an item in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes if you think it poses a higher risk of contamination, such as a handkerchief you have coughed or sneezed into.

Q: Should pregnant women be worried?

The Japan Society for Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology says there are no indications that pregnant women are more likely to have severe symptoms from the coronavirus, or reports of the virus causing problems in unborn babies.