Coronavirus overview

An illustration of a COVID-19 particle

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of virus that includes the common cold, SARS and MERS. The most recent COVID-19 outbreak involves a new strain that previously had not been identified in humans.

Main signs and symptoms

  • Coughing/sneezing
  • Fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficulty breathing

How is coronavirus transmitted?

The virus lives in the droplet of water in an infected person’s respiratory system. If they sneeze, cough or touch their mouth, these particles can spread. These particles can then land in the mouth or nose of uninfected people or be inhaled.

How to protect yourself

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available. This is particularly important after taking public transport.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.


There is no known treatment for COVID-19.

For the latest information and resources on vaccines, please visit the LSHTM Vaccine Centre.