Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The Novel Coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans.
Initial human infections were believed to be acquired from exposure to animals at a live animal market in Wuhan, however on 20 January 2020, authorities confirmed the virus is now spreading person-to-person. The strength of how easily the virus spreads between humans is still unknown.
It is believed the main form of transmission is via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs. This is similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. As investigations into the virus remain ongoing, there is still a lot to learn about the transmissibility, severity and other features related to the Novel Coronavirus.
Common symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Severe cases can cause pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death. Current evidence suggests that symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.