Coronavirus cause: Origin and how it spreads


MANY health experts believe that
the new strain of coronavirus
likely originated in bats or pangolins. The first transmission to humans was in Wuhan, China. Since then, the virus has mostly spread through person-to-person contact.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause disease in both animals and humans. The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus strain known as SARS-CoV is an example of a coronavirus. SARS spread rapidly in 2002–2003.
The new strain of coronavirus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus causes coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).
Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.
Around 80% of people with COVID-19 recover without specialist treatment. These people may experience mild, flu-like symptoms. However, 1 in 6 people may experience severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing.
The new coronavirus has spread rapidly in many parts of the world. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. A pandemic occurs when a disease that people are not immune to spreads across large regions.
Read on to learn more about the suspected cause of coronavirus and how it spreads.
What caused coronavirus?
Avoiding close contact with people may help stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
The recent outbreak began in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province of China. Reports of the first COVID-19 cases started in December 2019.
Coronaviruses are common in certain species of animals, such as cattle and camels. Although the transmission of coronaviruses from animals to humans is rare, this new strain likely came from bats, though one study suggests pangolins may be the origin.
However, it remains unclear exactly how the virus first spread to humans. Some reports trace the earliest cases back to a seafood and animal market in Wuhan. It may have been from here that SARS-CoV-2 started to spread to humans.
How it spreads
SARS-CoV-2 spreads from person to person through close communities.
When people with COVID-19 breathe out or cough, they expel tiny droplets that contain the virus. These droplets can enter the mouth or nose of someone without the virus, causing an infection to occur.