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Protecting the Public

OFFICIAL RESPONSE Vice President Mike Pence is leading the U.S. government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, he speaks during a March 6 news conference. OLIVER CONTRERAS—SIPA USA/AP IMAGES

As the new coronavirus travels around the world, communities are taking steps to stop its spread.

The new virus was first found in China in December. Since then, the virus has spread quickly. It causes the disease COVID-19. By March 12, cases had been found in 116 countries. Nearly 130,000 people have tested positive for it.

Most people get only mildly sick from COVID-19. But more than 4,700 have died. Many were over the age of 80. COVID-19 can be serious for people who are elderly or who have medical conditions. But most people make a full recovery.

In China, the government has put strict rules in place to limit the disease’s spread. Nearly 60 million people have been told to stay home. This is called quarantine. This seems to be working. The number of new cases in China has been falling.

Italy is seeing the largest outbreak of COVID-19 outside China. On March 9, Italian officials banned most people from travel within Italy until at least April 3. They’ve told the country’s 60 million people to leave home only when necessary.

COVID-19 in the U.S.

In the United States, about 1,300 cases of COVID-19 are confirmed. On March 11, President Donald Trump announced major restrictions on travel Europe to the U.S. will be halted for 30 days. This is to fight the pandemic pandemic SAM EDWARDS—GETTY IMAGES an outbreak of disease that spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people throughout the world (noun) Doctors around the world teamed up to try to stop the spread of the pandemic and keep people healthy. .

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says older adults and people with medical conditions should stay home and avoid crowds.

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, officials retrace his or her movements from before the diagnosis. They reach out to everyone who came in contact with the person. Those people are asked to go into quarantine for 14 days.

“Absolutely, we see a light at the end of the tunnel, but how quickly we get there depends on what countries do,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove says. She’s with the World Health Organization.

Scientists are racing to create a COVID-19 medicine and vaccine. According to U.S. health official Alex Azar, it could be 12 to 18 months before the vaccine’s ready.

This story appears in the March 20, 2020, print edition of TIME for Kids. It was published online on the afternoon of March 12. It has not been updated.