COVID-19: background information

Information on COVID-19 including epidemiology, virology and clinical features.



On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. A novel coronavirus (SARS coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2)) was subsequently identified from patient samples.

This document contains information for clinicians and the public on the epidemiology and virology of COVID-19, the infection caused by SARS-CoV-2.

There may be further information specific to each country in the United Kingdom, as this guidance was written by Public Health England (PHE) primarily for an English health professional audience. To see if country specific information is available, please refer to Health Protection Scotland, Public Health Wales, or Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

Published 16 January 2020
Last updated 27 March 2020 +show all updates
  1. Updated with latest global data.

  2. Updated with latest data.

  3. Updated with latest data.

  4. Updated with latest data.

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