Coronavirus: What Is It?

There are many families of viruses that largely cause respiratory illnesses, such as the “common cold.” Coronavirus is one of them.

Some coronaviruses, like SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012, can be very serious and sometimes even fatal. Others cause less serious symptoms that feel like having a cold. Information about the current coronavirus — COVID-19 — is still emerging, so scientists are learning what its long-term effects will be.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to “the flu” and include a runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, muscle aches and fever. Diagnosis can be made by a special throat swab and blood test.