Coronavirus disease 2019
Coronavirus disease 2019, known as COVID-19, is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, and has since spread globally, resulting in a world-wide pandemic.
The virus is mainly spread during close contact and via respiratory droplets produced when people cough or sneeze. Respiratory droplets may be produced during breathing but the virus is not considered airborne. People may also catch COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then their face. It is most contagious when people are symptomatic, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear.
Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include muscle pain, sputum production, diarrhoea, sore throat, abdominal pain, and loss of smell or taste. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure.
Where to find reliable information
Only get information from official sources, but remember that this is a new disease, and that advice is likely to change as more facts become available, and as additional regulations come into force.
UK National Health Service
World Health Organization