Medical staff at Wuhan railway stationOn 31th December 2019, several cases of pneumonia caused by an unknown virus were reported in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. One week later, on 7th January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus, later called COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. Symptoms include fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. Cases of severe infection can result in pneumonia, kidney failure and, in some cases, death. Highly contagious, the coronavirus's rate of infection escalated sharply in mid-January. Its spread to other Chinese provinces was accelerated by the Chinese New Year migration, during which people all over China return to their hometowns for the celebrations, starting 25th January. Cases also started to be reported in other countries, carried by international travellers as they returned to Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific.
2019-nCoV coronavirus (greatly magnified)
The new virus, COVID-19, is a coronavirus (so-called because of its resemblance to the Sun and its corona, its shimmering outer atmosphere). Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. These range from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Symptoms include fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. Cases of severe infection can result in pneumonia, kidney failure and, in a few cases, death.
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