What is the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2?
SARS-CoV-2 belongs to a family zoonotic pathogens known for their ability to infect humans and animals alike.
The coronavirus is a beta-coronavirus (β-coronavirus) and is one of five know beta strains.
The other beta-coronaviruses are MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, HKU1 and OC43, all of which attack humans.
Scientists also know of two alpha-coronaviruses (α-coronavirus) that attack humans, 229E NL63.
Human coronaviruses were first discovered in the 1960s and seven are currently known of but it is very likely many more unknown strains are carried by wild animals.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the novel strain was never seen before in humans.