Coronavirus is a term that was coined to refer to the 2014-2015 outbreak in the Southern and Eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia. The cause of infection is unknown, but coronavirus shares some similarities with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which has also been confirmed in Saudi Arabia since 2012.
There are many myths about coronavirus, including that it can be passed on by touching someone who is infected or by breathing in droplets from coughing or sneezing. Naming it coronavirus is a bit of a misnomer because that name is also used for some other viruses. However, the term has stuck and has become an industry standard, so we use it here.
Coronavirus is named after the crown-shaped capsid of its RNA genome. Coronaviruses are among the smallest but most abundant DNA viruses known and are spread through aerosol droplets in coughs or sneezes. It causes respiratory illness with symptoms similar to those of influenza but tends to be severe and very short-lived.