What Is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

As with SARS and MERS, it is assumed that this virus originated in animals (possibly bats) and changed or swapped genetics (termed “recombination”) somewhat to be able to infect humans.

Where It Started

In late December 2019 a group of residents, who seemed to have a connection with the Wuhan Seafood Market, were found to have developed a viral pneumonia. Studies have since shown that some of those with pneumonia first became sick in early December 2019. A hunt for the causative agent ruled out known pathogens and in early January 2020 the cause was found to be a new (novel) corona virus, now called COVID-19.

In late December 2019 a group of residents, who seemed to have a connection with the Wuhan Seafood Market, were found to have developed a viral pneumonia. Studies have since shown that some of those with pneumonia first became sick in early December 2019. A hunt for the causative agent ruled out known pathogens and in early January 2020 the cause was found to be a new (novel) corona virus, now called COVID-19.

Since the first COVID-19 case was reported in 2019 more than 73,000 cases have been reported globally. The majority of confirmed cases continue to be localized to China. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the SARS-CoV-2 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Several countries have implemented travel restrictions in response to the growing outbreak of the virus. Many airlines have suspended flights with routes serving China and other nearby countries.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is likely to be spread when respiratory droplets containing the virus are created when a person coughs or sneezes. This is called “droplet spread.”

COVID-19 is likely to be spread when respiratory droplets containing the virus are created when a person coughs or sneezes. This is called “droplet spread.”

Human to Human Transmission

Transmission between close contacts:transmission from an infected (and usually) sick person and close contacts, usually household or family members or healthcare workers. Cases occurring between close contacts are often called “clusters.”

Community transmission: wider transmission of the virus with people in the general community, who are not household or family members, or healthcare workers looking after cases, becoming infected. Community transmission occurs during an epidemic.