A coronavirus is a common type of virus which can cause illnesses to develop in the airways and lungs (which are medically referred to as the respiratory tract).
There are many different types of coronaviruses, and they have actually been around for quite some time. They were first identified in humans in the 1960s and have been infecting people ever since. These older strains of coronavirus can range from causing mild infections such as the common cold, to causing more severe respiratory infections in the lungs and airways (1).
In December 2019, the first cases of a new type of coronavirus were first reported in Wuhan, China (2). This new coronavirus was called a “novel coronavirus” as it had never been identified in humans before, and this is the coronavirus that is now commonly spoken about in the media.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have recently announced the official name for this new coronavirus, which is now called coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19 (3). This new name issued by WHO helps to distinguish this new coronavirus from the many other coronaviruses that circulate amongst humans.