COVID-19 causes an illness that affects people's lungs and airways. The main symptoms are cough, fever and shortness of breath. However, some people with the virus will have mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all.
It is likely to be spread in droplets that are sprayed when people with the virus cough or sneeze, or through close contact with someone with the virus.
There is no treatment specifically for COVID-19. Antibiotics do not work, because the infection is caused by a virus and not bacteria.
The best treatment is managing the symptoms at home (for example, by resting and taking paracetamol) while your body’s immune system fights the infection. People with the virus need to be isolated from others until they recover.
Most people recover quickly. However, the illness can be more severe in older people, people with long-term health conditions (such as heart or lung conditions, or diabetes), or people who have a lower immune system (for example because of the medication they take, or a condition like HIV or cancer). These people are likely to need treatment in hospital. Some younger people without known pre-existing conditions have also become very ill or died, so noone should assume that they will have only 'mild' illness.
People in the community with mild symptoms are not currently being tested. This means that the number of people with coronavirus confirmed by testing may not reflect the actual number of people with coronavirus in the local area.