Coronaviruses are common, and typically cause mild respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose.
Some are more serious – such as the deadly SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019, and was recognised as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. As of 23 March, more than 339,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in over 190 countries and territories, resulting in more than 14,600 deaths and 99,000 recoveries.
It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week, leads to shortness of breath. Loss of the sense of taste and/or smell are also early signs.
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Most victims have been elderly people, suffering from other chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and diabetes.