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The news about the novel coronavirus in China grows more urgent daily. The number of related deaths is now greater than 1,300, while tens of thousands of people have been infected — most of them in China. People returning to the U.S. from China are quarantined for 14 days. It can be frightening to think about the threat, but public health officials in this country constantly remind people that the risk of the disease here is low.

Still, scientists have more questions than answers about important issues surrounding the coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19. Here’s some help in understanding the unknowns and evaluating the risks.

More than 1,300 people have died from

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