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The COVID‑19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2).[1] The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.[4][6] The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March.[7][8] As of 8 July 2020, more than 11.7 million cases of COVID‑19 have been reported in more than 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 543,000 deaths; more than 6.41 million people have recovered.[5]

The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact,[c] most often via small droplets produced by coughing,[d] sneezing, and talking.[9][10][12] The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than travelling through air over long distances,[9] although in some cases they may remain airborne for tens of minutes.[13] Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face.[9][10] It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread is possible before symptoms appear, and from people who do not show symptoms.[9][10]

Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigueshortness of breath, and loss of sense of smell.[9][14][15] Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.[16] The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around five days but may range from two to fourteen days.[17][18] There is no known vaccine or specific antiviral treatment.[9] Primary treatment is symptomatic and supportive therapy.[19]

Recommended preventive measures include hand washing, covering one’s mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, wearing a face mask in public settings, and monitoring and self-isolation for people who suspect they are infected.[9][20] Authorities worldwide have responded by implementing travel restrictionslockdownsworkplace hazard controls, and facility closures. Many places have also worked to increase testing capacity and trace contacts of infected persons.