COVID-19 Background Information

For the up-to-date factsheet on the virus and situation update, please visit the respective pages of ECDC website.

 Factsheet on the virus        Global situation update        EU/EEA situation update 


Below are facts from 10 February 2020 when the initial set of micro leanings on NPC were produced.

Background Information 

Since it was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei province, thousands of cases of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, have been reported in China, as well as in other countries around the world. 


SARS-CoV-2 Transmission

  • Coronaviruses are usually transmitted by direct contact through respiratory droplets, but other modes of transmission have been identified. To date, human-to-human transmission through direct contact is the most common transmission mode for SARS-CoV-2 [1].
  • Other forms of transmission to consider are: 

    • Airborne transmission, although there is no no evidence precautionary approaches are recommended.
    • Contact with contaminated fomites and inhalation of aerosols during aerosol-generating procedures, may have occurred in some cases [2].
    • Faecal–oral transmission, cannot be ruled out as a patient was detected with virus RNA in faeces [3].

Non-pharmaceutical countermeasures (NPC) for the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak

The primary objective of NPCs is to reduce the impact of an outbreak by reducing the number of contacts that result in disease transmission. This may be achieved through four main countermeasures:

  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Environmental Countermeasures
  • Social Distancing Countermeasures
  • Travel Related Countermeasures

Related leaning 

Click here to access the micro learnings available related to COVID-19.

NOTE: The micro learnings are based on the NCP ECDC guideline and the PPE ECDC technical report. The NCP ECDC guideline is based on an ECDC Expert Opinion on non-pharmaceutical countermeasures. Since there are uncertainties concerning the infectious period of the SARS-CoV-2 and its basic reproductive number (R0), these materials should be interpreted with caution.

Moreover, these materials are build upon the current knowledge on the SARS-CoV-2 and evidence available on other viral respiratory pathogens, mainly the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and seasonal or pandemic influenza viruses.

Last modified: Wednesday, 29 April 2020, 4:05 PM