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What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Initial human infections of this new, or ‘novel’ coronavirus were first notified to the World Health Organization (WHO) in late December 2019 after a cluster of pneumonia cases emerged in Hubei Province, China. On 30 January 2020, the WHO declared the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Since it’s a new virus, much remains unknown about the characteristics of the coronavirus.However, a large number of countries have now confirmed sustained or limited person-to-person transmission. On 11 February 2020, the WHO named the disease caused by the novel coronavirus ‘COVID-19’.

Common symptoms of the disease include a fever, flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue, and shortness of breath. While around 80 per cent of cases will only experience mild symptoms, severe cases can cause pneumonia, and even death.

More Coronavirus (COVID-19) information, fact sheets and resources for the public, health professionals and industry are available from the Department of Health.

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