The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019 and recognised as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. As of 15 March, over 167,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in around 140 countries and territories; more than 6,400 people have died from the disease and around 76,000 have recovered. Regions affected by major outbreaks include mainland China, Europe, Iran, South Korea, and the United States. On 13 March 2020, the WHO stated that Europe was the current centre of the pandemic.
The virus primarily spreads between people in a way similar to influenza, via respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. The time between exposure and symptom onset is typically five days, but may range from two to fourteen days. Symptoms are most often fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment, but research is ongoing. Efforts are aimed at managing symptoms and supportive therapy. Recommended preventive measures include handwashing, covering the mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people (particularly those who are unwell), and monitoring and self-isolation for fourteen days for people who suspect they are infected.
Public health responses have included national pandemic preparedness and response plans, travel restrictions, quarantines, curfews, event postponements and cancellations, and facility closures. These include a quarantine of Hubei, China, the nationwide quarantine of both Italy and Spain, curfew measures in China and South Korea, various border closures or incoming passenger restrictions, screening methods at airports and train stations and travel advisories regarding regions with community spread. Schools and universities have closed either on a nationwide or local basis in at least 61 countries, affecting more than 500 million students.
Effects of the pandemic include social and economic instability, xenophobia and racism against people of Chinese, East and Southeast Asian descent, and the online spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus.more » « less