The virus primarily spreads between people in a way similar to influenza, via respiratory droplets from coughing. The time between exposure and symptom onset is typically five days, but may range from two to fourteen days. Symptoms are most often fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment, but research is ongoing. Efforts are aimed at managing symptoms and supportive therapy. Recommended preventive measures include handwashing, maintaining distance from other people (particularly those who are unwell), and monitoring and self-isolation for fourteen days for people who suspect they are infected.
Worldwide effects of the pandemic include social and economic instability, xenophobia and racism against people of Chinese and East Asian descent, and the online spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus.