Page update at 09:20 September 10th 2020

What is the novel coronavirus

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. A coronavirus is a type of virus that causes respiratory tract infections, such as colds and pneumonia. Although coronaviruses usually cause mild symptoms, they can (on rare occasions) cause life-threatening breathing difficulties and death.

What we know so far

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Where did the disease originate?

Coronaviruses are common amongst animals. They’re ‘zoonotic,’ meaning that they can be spread between humans and animals.The reservoir — where microbes such as viruses live and grow — for COVID-19 appears to be bats. Research into where the infection started is ongoing, but a major source of the outbreak has been traced to a large seafood and meat market in Wuhan City, China. Due to the ability of the virus to spread from person to person so easily, it has since been declared a pandemic.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 mainly spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets can be inhaled by people nearby, or transferred when someone touches their mouth, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands. The CDC says that COVID-19 is now also spreading via community spread, which means that people who can’t pinpoint how or when they were infected are testing positive for the virus.1