COVID-19: Historic Content (Not being updated)

What has the virus done to our world?

COVID-19 has changed the world we live in.

This 'Information is beautiful infographic datapack' provides a full and detailed overview of the impact the virus has had across the globe.

Collating, collecting and publishing information to help you

To help us and you understand more about the virus, its impact and the future then we have collated, and will continue to, a range of data sources, literature and information that helps us all to respond in the most appropriate way possible. We will endeavour to keep the information up to date and adding new and relevant content. If you are aware of additional information or feel we could develop the page then please get in touch

COVID-19 Data    COVID-19 Impacts    COVID-19 Response

Some facts about this virus

What is COVID-19?

World Health Organisation (WHO) describes 'Coronavirus disease' (COVID-19) as an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. 

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.



COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Cough

  • Fever or chills

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Sore throat

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Diarrhoea

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea or vomiting

What are coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. However, three new coronaviruses have emerged from animal reservoirs over the past two decades to cause serious and widespread illness and death.

There are hundreds of coronaviruses, most of which circulate among such animals as pigs, camels, bats and cats. Sometimes those viruses jump to humans—called a spillover event—and can cause disease. 

Four of the seven known coronaviruses that sicken people cause only mild to moderate disease. 

Three can cause more serious, even fatal, disease.

  • SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) emerged in November 2002 and caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). That virus disappeared by 2004.

  • Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is caused by the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Transmitted from an animal reservoir in camels, MERS was identified in September 2012 and continues to cause sporadic and localized outbreaks.

  • The third novel coronavirus to emerge in this century is called SARS-CoV-2. It causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which emerged from China in December 2019 and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.

When and how did COVID-19 develop?

What is the Epidemiology of Coronavirus?

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

On 12 January 2020, it was announced that a novel coronavirus had been identified in samples obtained from cases and that initial analysis of virus genetic sequences suggested that this was the cause of the outbreak. This virus is referred to as SARS-CoV-2, and the associated disease as COVID-19.

As of 13 August 2020, over 20 million cases have been diagnosed globally with almost 750,000 fatalities. In the 14 days to 13 August, more than 3.6 million cases were reported worldwide (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, situation update worldwide).

The WHO coronavirus dashboard has country by country information.

The total number of confirmed cases in the UK is published by the Department of Health and Social Care, and is available in a visual dashboard.

Where do coronaviruses come from?

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control suggests that Coronaviruses are viruses that circulate among animals with some of them also known to infect humans.

Bats are considered natural hosts of these viruses yet several other species of animals are also known to act as sources. For instance, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is transmitted to humans from camels, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-1 (SARS-CoV-1) is transmitted to humans from civet cats. More information on coronaviruses can be found in the disease background of COVID-19.

How is coronavirus spread?

The source of the outbreak has yet to be determined. A zoonotic source to the outbreak has not been identified yet, but investigations are ongoing.

According to current evidence, SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes. Airborne transmission is possible in specific settings in which procedures or support treatments that generate aerosols are performed.

At the moment, human-to-human transmission is occurring extensively. Hence, precautions to prevent human-to-human transmission are appropriate for both suspected and confirmed cases (see infection prevention and control guidance).

In addition to respiratory secretions, SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in blood, faeces and urine.

In the UK

COVID-19 epidemic result of 1,356 virus imports

In June, a study by the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium (Cog-UK), revealed that the COVID-19 epidemic in the UK is the result of at least 1,356 separate virus importations from abroad, followed by local transmission within the UK. Chaired by the Director of PHE’s National Infection Service and Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Sharon Peacock, the findings of Cog-UK invalidate the idea that a single ‘patient zero’ started the outbreak in the UK. Instead, the preliminary analysis confirms that transmission was largely initiated by travel from European countries including Italy in late February, Spain in early-to-mid-March, and then France in mid-to-late March.

Who is most risk from the coronavirus?

Who's at higher risk from coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher.

There are 2 levels of higher risk:

  • high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable)

  • moderate risk (clinically vulnerable)

People at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable)

People at high risk from coronavirus include people who:

  • have had an organ transplant

  • are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy

  • are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer

  • are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)

  • have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)

  • have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine

  • have been told by a doctor they have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)

  • have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)

  • are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppressant medicine)

  • have a serious heart condition and are pregnant

For more advice if you are deemed higher risk - go to NHS website

We discuss later on these COVID-19 web pages, who, or what, has been affected by the virus.

Government Guidance and more