COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) is a severe respiratory disease caused by the virus named SARS-CoV-2 that emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province and spreads over the globe.

Scientists working in the labOverview

Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-2019) is an infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus referred to as SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) because of its similarity to the strain that caused an outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome back in 2002. WHO has stated the current outbreak to be a pandemic. Many countries around the globe have announced quarantine, travels across the borders are confined. As of early June 2020, Slovenia is the first and only European country to declare end of COVID-19 epidemics.


2019 outbreak has started in the city of Wuhan, China when many patients with severe pneumonia of viral origin were admitted to hospital. The disease was linked to a seafood and animal market in the city. Therefore, animal-to-person transmission is suspected, although patients that were admitted later hadn’t visited animal markets implying human-to-human transmission. Officially the report to the WHO about this outbreak was made on the 31 of December 2019. Currently, more than 6,300,000 cases of infection have been confirmed worldwide with about 370,000 deaths. According to the latest data, 9% of ill people have severe disease. The estimated mortality rate for COVID-19 is about 2-3%.

Middle of March 2020. While the outbreak in China is subsiding, the number of infected individuals in Europe rapidly rises. The authorities have decided to shut down the borders in-between European countries, several states announced quarantine, international flights are being canceled at least until the beginning of April. The flights from Europe were banned in the USA and domestic travel restrictions are considered.


COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus infection. Coronaviridae is a large family of RNA-containing viruses, 229E, OC43, NL63, and HKU1 strains are underlying infection in up to 30% of common colds.

SARS-CoV-2 belongs to betacoronaviruses. The novel virus is similar to SARS-CoV which causes the severe acute respiratory syndrome, the same applies to the clinical presentation of the disease. These viruses are considered to originate from bats.


The virus is transmitted by the airborne droplets that are released when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Moreover, close contact is required to contract the disease. Fecal-oral route of transmission is also suspected, although there are no definitive data on this topic.


Symptoms of the disease develop in 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Usually, COVID-19 manifests with fever, later dry cough occurs.

  • Fever and chills;
  • Dry cough;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • General malaise;
  • Fatigue;
  • Sore throat;
  • Runny nose;

In otherwise healthy individuals with no comorbidities, the disease is usually mild and resolves spontaneously without any treatment. It seems that men are also more likely to develop severe disease. However, no one can be safe as it is impossible to predict the disease course and its outs outcomes.


Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) is performed to detect the presence of viral particles in blood samples or specimens obtained from the respiratory system.

Other tests that may be ordered include complete blood count, chest X-ray, CT scan of the lungs.


There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, therefore, the only available treatment is mainly symptomatic.

  • Corticosteroids are administered for severe disease to reduce inflammation of the lung tissue;
  • Antipyretics are used to reduce fever;
  • Painkillers are recommended to relieve the headache;
  • Severely ill individuals usually require respiratory support (mechanical lung ventilation);


The vaccine for COVID-19 hasn’t been invented yet. Some trials are being held, but it’s not known when the vaccine will be marketed.

Since the infection is spread via droplets in order to prevent contagion and spreading of the virus it is recommended:

  • to wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds;
  • if it is not possible to wash your hands use hand-sanitizer with at least 60% of alcohol;
  • to avoid touching your face, mouth or eyes with unwashed hands;
  • not to share utensils, drinks or foods, use serving spoons instead;
  • to cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing;
  • to avoid crowded places and contact with ill people, if you are still in a room with an infected person, keep the distance of at least 1,5-2,0 meters between you;
  • to stay at home if you feel unwell or there are any signs of the common cold.

Note, that it is not advised to wear a face mask unless you are ill.

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