The deadly coronavirus that originated in China may have reached Virginia. Three cases of respiratory illness in the state are being closely monitored by the Department of Health for a possible link.

Update as of 2:37 p.m. ET: The two cases in central Virginia have tested negative for coronavirus.

Two of the three cases being investigated are in Central Virginia, and the third case is in Northern Virginia. No additional information is being released about the patients at this time.

The coronavirus, now known as "2019-nCoV," is considered novel (new) because it has never been seen in humans before. It presents as a flu-type respiratory disease with symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, and sore throat. 

respiratory mask

Courtesy of Smart Air Filters

Common flu precautions are the best defense against the 2019-nCoV coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each session, cover your mouth when you cough, and avoid people who appear to be sick. When you are out in public, touching surfaces like doorknobs and counters, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

If you are exposed to 2019-nCoV, symptoms start to appear 2-14 days later and you can only be positively diagnosed by having a blood test.

To date, five cases of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus have been confirmed in four states: Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to monitor the situation and post regular updates on their website.

CDC, coronavirus

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

At the time of publication, the global death toll from the 2019-nCoV outbreak has reached 80, with all of the deaths occurring in China. The State Department has issued multiple travel advisories for travel to affected regions in China and U.S. airports are actively establishing screening procedures for high-risk passengers.

For more information about the novel coronavirus or ongoing investigations, go to the official Virginia Department of Health website or the CDC's informational page about 2019-nCoV. You can also head to their Facebook page for updates as well.