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What Is Coronavirus

Release date:2020-03-30

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus, a common family of viruses, which surfaced in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019. This particular type is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2.1 Similar to MERS and SARS, this coronavirus likely jumped from an animal (probably a bat, although scientists are not completely certain) to a human, perhaps via some other species.

It appears that while the infection is mild in some people, it can cause a severe respiratory (lung) illness similar to SARS and may result in death. It may also cause complications like pneumonia or bronchitis. These complications are more common in babies and the elderly, as well as people with a suppressed immune system or an underlying heart or lung disease.

The World Health Organization has decided COVID-19 is globally widespread enough to be considered a pandemic.3 This is because the virus is new, so people's immune systems are not prepared to fight it, thus permitting the virus to spread rapidly from person to person.

The interactive map below shows the current extent to which COVID-19 has spread globally. It highlights the total number of cases that have been confirmed in affected countries.