For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.
The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed our way of life, shut down entire countries and shuttered businesses across the globe. After an initial outbreak of disease in Wuhan, China, that began in December 2019, the novel virus has spread to over 180 countries, with the US and the European nations of Spain, Italy and France the worst hit. As scientists and researchers race toward a vaccine, governments are attempting to mitigate the economic damage with stimulus checks and tax cuts and contain further spread of the disease with social distancing measures and lockdowns.
Researchers linked the pathogen to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses in January. That family contains viruses responsible for previous outbreaks of the respiratory diseases SARS and MERS, as well as some cases of the common cold. On March 11, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, announced the outbreak of the disease, dubbed COVID-19, would be declared a pandemic. It is the first time any coronavirus has been characterized as such.
The situation continues to evolve as more information becomes available. We’ve collated everything we know about the virus, what’s next for researchers, what steps you can take to reduce your risk, how to deal with quarantines and lockdowns, and how governments are providing assistance such as stimulus checks.
Our coronavirus pandemic hub will show you the latest stories. Clicking on the titles below will take you to the relevant section of the guide:
What is COVID-19?
What is a pandemic?
Where did the virus come from?
How many confirmed cases and deaths have been reported?
What is the fatality rate of COVID-19?
How do we know it’s a new coronavirus?
How is coronavirus spread?
Why do people keep saying “flatten the curve”?
Can I get coronavirus from a package?
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
How infectious is the coronavirus?
Should you make your own hand sanitizer?
Is there a treatment for the coronavirus?
Can you take ibuprofen for coronavirus?
Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?
How to reduce your risk of the coronavirus
Should I wear a face mask?
What’s been canceled by coronavirus?
Life in lockdown: Guides for your coronavirus quarantine
Coronavirus stimulus checks: CNET guides
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses belong to a family known as “Coronaviridae,” and under an electron microscope they look like spiked rings. They’re named for these spikes, which form a halo or “crown” (corona is Latin for crown) around the viral body.
Coronaviruses contain a single strand of RNA (as opposed to DNA, which is double-stranded) within their viral body (or “viral envelope”). As a virus, they can’t reproduce without getting inside living cells and hijacking the machinery within. The spikes on the viral envelope help coronaviruses bind to cells, and then get inside them as if jimmying their way through a locked door. Once inside, they turn the cell into a virus factory — the RNA and a handful of enzymes use the cell’s machinery to produce more viruses, which are then shipped out of the cell and infect other cells. Thus, the cycle starts anew.