Microsoft and the CDC have built an AI-powered coronavirus chatbot that can help you figure out whether you need to go to the hospital

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has partnered with Microsoft to develop a coronavirus self-checker to help people who are feeling sick determine whether they should go to the hospital to seek treatment.

The chat tool, which is built on Microsoft’s artificial intelligence-powered healthcare bot service, asks a series of questions about a person’s location, age, and symptoms they’re experiencing, and then offers advice on whether or not they may need urgent medical attention.

The tool only works for those located in the US, and it’s not meant to actually diagnosis or treat the new coronavirus (or other diseases).

“If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice,” the CDC’s site advises.

A fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing are the three symptoms most frequently reported by patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Most cases are mild, but about 20% of patients have severe cases of disease or become critically ill. While older age groups and those with pre-existing conditions are most susceptible to the disease, recent research has shown that some children have become sick as well, and that the youngest ones have the highest risk.

If you think you or someone you’re caring for has been exposed to the new coronavirus, the CDC and healthcare professionals have clear advice: Make a phone call before you head to the hospital. Going into the hospital without calling ahead could expose more people to the virus.

As the virus continues to spread throughout the US, the country’s healthcare system is under immense pressure. One map shows that almost no regions have the hospital-bed capacity for significant numbers of patients. That’s led cities and states to go on lockdown in an effort to “flatten the curve” – or slow the spread of the coronavirus so as not to overwhelm the healthcare system.