COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus disease 2019, is a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and has since become a global pandemic, leading to widespread illness, death, and significant social and economic disruptions.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The disease spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes, and can also be transmitted by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching one's mouth, nose, or eyes. Preventative measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing have been recommended to slow the spread of the disease, while vaccines have been developed and deployed worldwide to help protect people from becoming ill or developing severe illness if they contract the virus.