The exact origin of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is not currently known. Coronaviruses have existed since the start of the century and are very common in animals. They have jumped to humans and caused recent outbreaks such as SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012.
The COVID-19 virus began spreading at the end of December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China. It was thought it originally started at a seafood market after jumping from animal to human, likely bats, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Experts are still searching for the exact cause of the outbreak, although it seems China is where it began spreading to the rest of the world. It is now on the decline in China as the rest of the world begins to grapple with it.
According to the World Health Organization, the current epicenter of the pandemic is Europe — spreading faster than it began in China.
Hot spots within the United States include Washington state, New York, and Boston.