About COVID-19

COVID-19 is the name given by the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 11, 2020 for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It started in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and has since spread worldwide. COVID-19 is an acronym that stands for COronaVIrus Disease of 2019.

Also called as coronavirus, coronavirus disease, coronavirus disease 2019, CV-19, CV19 and SARS-CoV-2

On December 31, 2019, a strange new pneumonia of unknown cause was reported to the Chinese WHO Country Office. A cluster of these cases originally appeared in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei Province of China. These infections were found to be caused by a new coronavirus which was given the name "2019 novel coronavirus" (2019-nCoV).

It was later renamed "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2", or SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses on February 11, 2020. It was named SARS-CoV-2 because the virus is a genetic cousin of the coronavirus which caused the SARS outbreak in 2002 (SARS-CoV).

A "novel" coronavirus means that it is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. This means it is different from coronaviruses that cause the common cold, and those that caused SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012.

Like, SARS and MERS, the novel coronavirus is a zoonotic disease. The definition of a zoonotic disease is one that begins in animals and is transmitted from animals to people.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.