COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It was first identified in late 2019. It is very infectious and can lead to severe respiratory disease. Many people who are infected may not have any symptoms or only have mild symptoms. These commonly start with cough, fever, headache and loss of taste or smell.
Some people will feel very tired, have aching muscles, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, fever or confusion. A small number of people then go on to have severe disease, which may require hospitalisation or admission to intensive care.
Overall just under 1 in 100 people who are infected will die from COVID-19. Severe disease is rare in children but the risk increases with age. For example, the average risk of dying from COVID-19 in someone aged 40-49 is three times higher than someone in the 30-39 age group and 12 times higher than someone in the 20-29 age group. There is no cure for COVID-19 although some treatments reduce the risk of complications.