2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.
Symptoms of COVID-19 often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties,
and loss of smell and taste.
Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction).
At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.
The virus spreads mainly when an infected person is in close contact with
Small droplets and aerosols containing the virus can spread from an infected person's nose and mouth as they breathe, cough, sneeze, sing, or speak. Other people are infected if the virus gets into their mouth, nose or eyes. The virus may also spread via contaminated surfaces, although this is not thought to be the main route of transmission.
A person who is infected can transmit the virus to others up to two days before they themselves show symptoms, as can an individual who does not experience symptoms. People remain infectious for up to ten days in moderate cases, and two weeks in severe cases.
The best way to get a coronavirus test is to contact your health care provider. You may also visit your state or local health department's website to look for the latest local information on testing.
As of January 2021, nine vaccines have been authorized by at least one national regulatory authority for public use. Many countries have implemented phased distribution plans that prioritize those at highest risk of complications, such as the elderly, and those at high risk of exposure and transmission, such as healthcare workers. As of January 2021, 63.41 million doses of COVID‑19 vaccine had been administered worldwide based on official reports from national health agencies.