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COVID-19 pandemic facts for kids

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COVID‑19 pandemic
COVID-19 Outbreak World Map per Capita.svg
Confirmed cases per 100,000 population
as of
  •   >3,000
  •   1,000–3,000
  •   300–1,000
  •   100–300
  •   30–100
  •   0–30
  •   None or no data
A nurse caring for a patient with COVID‑19 in an intensive care unit
Meeting of the Italian government task force to face the coronavirus outbreak, 23 February 2020
Taiwanese 33rd Chemical Corps spraying disinfectant on a street in Taipei, Taiwan
Workers unloading boxes of medical supplies at Villamor Air Base
Clockwise, starting from top:
  • A nurse caring for a COVID‑19 patient in an intensive care unit aboard a U.S. hospital ship
  • Disinfection vehicles in Taiwan
  • Donated medical supplies being received in the Philippines
  • Burial in Iran
  • The Italian government's outbreak task force
Disease Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19)
Virus strain Severe acute respiratory syndrome
coronavirus 2
Location Worldwide
Date 31 December 2019 (2019-12-31)–present
Confirmed cases 3,845,607
Active cases 2,293,113 (30.2% of total cases)
Recovered 1,282,930

The COVID-19 pandemic, also called the coronavirus pandemic, is a current pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The outbreak started in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) called it a pandemic on 11 March 2020. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses gave the virus its name. As of November 28, more than 60 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in more than 188 countries and territories. More than one million people have died of COVID-19, and more than 23 million people have defeated, or recovered from the disease.

The virus usually moves from one person to another with small drops made when coughing People can avoid spreading the virus by regularly washing their hands, covering their mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, staying away from crowds, wearing medical or cloth face coverings, and being alone for people who think they are infected, also known as quarantining.

The outbreak might be from a coronavirus that usually lives in bats. This infected another animal, possibly a pangolin. It then changed inside that other animal until it could infect humans.

List of terminology associated with COVID-19

  • SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19
  • 2019-nCoV is the old name for SARS-CoV-2
  • Coronavirus disease 2019 is another name for COVID-19
  • community spread is the spread of the disease without a known travel connection
  • clusters are groups of COVID-19 cases in which many people in the same area became infected with COVID-19
  • lockdown
  • presumptive confirmed positive
  • quarantine
  • sealed off


Epidemiology is the study of how diseases affect the health and illness of groups of people


On 31 December 2019, Chinese health authorities reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) a cluster of viral pneumonia cases of unknown cause in Wuhan, and an investigation was launched in early January 2020.

On 9 June 2020, a Harvard University study suggested that COVID-19 may have been spreading in China as early as August 2019, based on hospital car park usage and web search trends.


Cases means the number of people who have been tested for COVID-19 and have tested positive.


Most people who contract COVID-19 recover. For those who do not, the time between the start of symptoms and death usually ranges from 6 to 41 days, typically about 14 days.


On 11 March 2020, the WHO said that the pandemic could be controlled.


Symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 2.0
Symptoms of COVID-19. There are reports that even people who do not show symptoms can spread it.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 makes people feel sick in different ways, but it usually affects the lungs. People usually cough and have difficulty breathing. They often also have a fever, chills, headache, pain in their muscles, or trouble tasting or smelling things.

According to an April 2020 study by the American Gastroenterological Association, COVID-19 can make sick people vomit or have diarrhea, but this is rare. They said about 7.7% of COVID-19 patients vomited, about 7.8% had diarrhea and about 3.6% had pain in their stomachs.



In February 2020, the WHO announced a name for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2: COVID-19. It replaced the name "2019-nCoV." "Covi" is for "coronavirus," "D" for "disease," and "19" for the year 2019. They said they did not want the name to have any person, place, or animal in it because people might blame the disease on that place, person, or animal. For example, it did not use the word "Wuhan." They also wanted the name to be easy to say out loud.

Mortality rate of COVID-19

The current death rate of COVID-19

According to an article in Market Watch dated on February 27, 2020, the overall case mortality rate in China was 2.3%. However, there were large differences between different age groups and between men and women. People over the age of seventy experienced a rate of mortality 4-5 times that of the average. Men were more likely to die than women (2.8% versus 1.7% for women). These numbers were the conclusion of a study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention using 72,314 COVID-19 cases in mainland China as of Feb. 11. At that point this was the largest sample of cases for such a study.

On March 5, 2020, the WHO released the case fatality rate.

Race and racism

COVID-19 did not affect everyone in each country the same way. As of May 2020, APM Research Lab said the death rate among black Americans was 2.4 times as high as for whites and 2.2 times as high as for Latino and Asian Americans. In July 2020, The New York Times printed data from the Centers for Disease Control showing that black and Latino Americans were three times as likely to become sick and twice as likely to die as white Americans. This was not only in large cities but also in rural areas. This was not only for old people but for people in all age groups. Native Americans were also more likely than whites to become sick and die. Asian Americans were 1.3 times as likely as whites to become sick.

Camara Jones, an epidemiologist who once worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this was socioeconomic and not because of any natural difference in black and white people's bodies. In the United States, black citizens are more likely to work jobs where they serve the public and to ride on buses and trains rather than take their own cars to work, which makes them more likely to be infected than people who work in private offices or from home. Sharrelle Barber, an epidemiologist and biostatistician from Drexel University, also said black Americans can live in crowded neighborhoods where social distancing is harder to do and healthy food harder to find. Both Barber and Jones blamed the long history of racism in the United States for these things. Three senators, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren said the federal government should start recording the race of COVID-19 patients so scientists could study this problem.

In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told the public that people using the United States' government's Medicare health program had different results depending on race. Four times as many black Medicare patients went to hospitals for COVID-19 than white Medicare patients. There were twice as many hospitalized Hispanic patients than white patients. There were three hospitalized Asian patients for every two hospitalized white patients. The head of CMS, Seema Verma, said this was mostly because of socioeconomic status.

In the United Kingdom, twice as many black COVID-19 patients died as white COVID-19 patients. Other non-white people, like people from India and Bangledesh, were also more likely to die of COVID-19 than whites. Britain's Office of National Statistics said that the differences in money and education explained some of this difference but not all of it. They also said they did not know whether non-white patients caught COVID-19 more often or whether they caught more severe cases. Only female Chinese Britons were less likely to die of COVID-19 than white Britons.

Indigenous peoples

Native Americans in the United States have shown more deaths from COVID-19 than the rest of the U.S. As of May, the Navajo Nation had 88 deaths and 2,757 cases, and the money they had been promised by the government arrived several weeks late. Only 30% of the people in the Navajo Nation have pipes with running water, which made it difficult for people to wash their hands.

Scientists from Chapman University made a plan to protect the Tsimane people in Bolivia from COVID-19 and said this plan would also work for other indigenous peoples living on their own land. The scientists said that many indigenous peoples have problems that make COVID-19 more dangerous for them, like poverty, less clean water, and other lung diseases. Hospitals may be a long distance away, and racism can affect the way doctors and nurses react. But they also sometimes have things that help, like traditions of making decisions together and the ability to grow food nearby. The scientists found people who spoke the Tsimane language as a first language and made teams to go to Tsimane towns to warn them about COVID-19. They also used radio stations. They said the best plan was for whole communities to decide to isolate. They found this worked well because the Tsimane already usually made their big decisions together as a community in special meetings and already had a tradition of quarantining new mothers. The Chapman scientists said their plan would also work for other indigenous peoples who also make decisions together, like the Tsimane. The Waswanipi Cree in Canada, the Mapoon people in Australia, and many groups in South America already tried plans like these on their own.

George Floyd protests

In May 2020, police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota killed an unarmed black man called George Floyd while they were arresting him. There were weeks of protests all over the world against police racism. Experts said they were worried protesters and police could spread SARS-CoV-2 to each other. Other experts said some of the reasons that the protests were so big was because non-white people were being killed by COVID-19 more than white people were, because poor leadership in the COVID-19 crisis reminded them of poor leadership about racism, and because the lockdowns shut down workplaces and other things. This meant people had more time to protest.

Conspiracy theories

In early 2020, some people began to think that the SARS-CoV-2 may have been made on purpose in a laboratory and either released by accident or on purpose like a weapon. Some Iranians thought the Americans might have made it. Chinese state media said COVID-19 came from the United States to China and not the other way around. Some Americans thought the Chinese might have made it. Some Britons thought it might have been created by accident by 5G cell phone networks.

On March 17, 2020, scientists from Columbia University and other places published a paper in Nature Medicine showing that SARS-CoV-2 was almost surely not made by humans in a laboratory. They did this by comparing the genomes of different viruses to each other. The scientists saw that SARS-CoV-2 did not match any of the viral backbones that already exist for virologists to use. Within a few weeks, it became one of the most cited scientific papers in history, meaning that other scientists were reading and using it.


Timelines of COVID-19 

COVID-19 Outbreak lockdowns
Map of national and subnational lockdowns as of 30 March 2020      National lockdown     Subnational lockdown     No lockdown

On December 31, 2019, China alerted WHO to several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei province.

On January 20, 2020, Chinese premier Li Keqiang called for efforts to stop and control the pneumonia epidemic caused by a novel coronavirus. As of February 5, 2020, 24,588 cases have been confirmed, including in every province-level division of China. A larger number of people may have been infected, but not detected (especially mild cases). The first local transmission of the virus outside China occurred in Vietnam between family members, while the first local transmission not involving family occurred in Germany, on January 22, when a German man contracted the disease from a Chinese business visitor at a meeting. As of 5 February  2020 (2020 -02-05), 493 deaths have been attributed to the virus since the first confirmed death on January 9, with 990 recoveries. The first death outside China was reported in the Philippines, in a 44-year-old Chinese male on February 1., but another source reported: "The first cases of COVID-19 outside of China were identified on January 13 in Thailand and on January 16 in Japan".

There has been testing which have showed over 6000 confirmed cases in China, some of whom are healthcare workers.

Confirmed cases have also been reported in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, the United States (Everett, Washington and Chicago), Singapore, Vietnam, France and Nepal.

The World Health Organization declared that this is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern since January 30, 2020.

Bloomberg News and other business publications have reported several plant closures, travel restrictions, and imposed quarantines as a result of this outbreak.

As of February 10, 2020 there have been 40,235 confirmed cases reported of people infected by the virus in China. Also reported were 909 deaths, and 319 cases in 24 other countries, including one death, according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

On November 14, 2020, there were 53,853,718 global COVID-19 cases and 1,311,524 deaths with cases in 217 countries and territories.


  • The first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Wuhan, Hubei, Mainland China in December of 2019.
  • On Feb. 4, 2020, the Seattle Times reported that Around 2020 Chinese new year authorities closed down travel from China to Macau. As a result visits fell eighty percent.
  • Feb 6, 2020, the COVID-19 whistleblower, Li Wenliang, dies of the disease.
  • On February 6, 2020, according to Chinese authorities, a man from the United States who tested positive for the virus died.
  • On February 25, 2020 the Asian Scientist Magazine reported Chinese Scientists Sequence Genome Of COVID-19
  • According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention, China had the largest number of confirmed cases and deaths on March 1, 2020.
  • On March 3, 2020 Science (journal) reported:
    • China built two new hospitals in one week just for patients of COVID-19
    • The article praised the way China has handled this crisis, but said "draconian" measures were used to achieve success.
  • On March 6, 2020, CNN reported that a hotel used as a COVID-19 quarantine center collapsed. Seventy people were trapped in a collapsed Quanzhou hotel.
  • The Chinese economy was greatly affected by the virus, and many factories shut down during the spike of cases in China during the early months of the pandemic.
  • As of October 30, 2020, the number of cases of the virus in China were generally going down, with only 771 new cases being reported in the month of October.

United States

  • The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was detected in a man from the state of Washington on January 21, 2020.
  • On February 27, 2020, US President Donald Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the US response to COVID-19.
  • On February 29, 2020, the first death in the US was reported from the state of Washington.
  • On March 3, 2020 CBS reported 15 states with confirmed cases.
  • Movements such as elbow bumps began replacing handshakes , as handshakes spread the virus and bacteria more.
  • On March 6, 2020, the CDC announced that one million test kits would be distributed.
  • On March 9, 2020, the US stock market was approaching bear territory.
  • On March 9, 2020, there were also scattered reports that some were quarantined while their household members were not.
  • On March 10, 2020, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, said that it is was not known how many Americans tested positive for the virus. This was because many of the test kits went out to private companies.
  • On March 10, 2020, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, announced that the city of New Rochelle was the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases in the state. Among other things done to contain the virus in New Rochelle, the National Guard was sent to the city to hand out food and disinfect buildings.
  • On April 3, 2020, the CDC first recommended the use of cloth face coverings by the general public to reduce the spread of the virus in places such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • On July 22, 2020, the United States surpassed 1,000 daily COVID-19 deaths for a second time.
  • On September 22, 2020, the United States reached 200,000 deaths from the virus.
  • Between September to October, there was a COVID-19 outbreak at the White House, causing many officials to be diagnosed with the infection, including President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.
  • In December 2020, California surpassed over 30,000 new cases in a day.

Economic effects of COVID-19 in the United States


  • On February 27, 2020, according to the EU Observer, a dozen towns in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were under lockdown, with around 50,000 citizens not allowed to leave, and over 200 reported cases of COVID n Italy.
  • On March 4, 2020, according to the Guardian , the Italian government has ordered the closing of all of Italy's schools and universities until 15 March, 2020
  • On March 5, 2020 the Guardian reported: "Italian educational institutions close as Covid-19 deaths pass 100"
  • On March 8, 2020, Al Jazeera reported that after a daily infection rate of 1,247 cases, Lombardy together with ten other areas were sealed off to try to quarantine 16 million people. The cities of Milan and Venice were in the quarantined area.
  • On March 10, 2020, it was reported that Italy was under quarantine.
  • On October 5, 2020, Italy imposed a new lockdown and set of restrictions after previously relaxing them. This was due to a second wave of cases that was even worse than the one in spring.


  • On 28 February 2020, the BBC reported COVID-19 deaths in Iran were at least 210.
  • March 3, 2020 multiple Iranian government officials including deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi and vice president of women and family affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar, who served as a spokesperson during the Iran hostage crisis, had contracted COVID-19.


  • The first case of COVID-19 in Canada was detected in a man from Toronto on January 25, 2020.
  • On March 12, 2020, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus. The Prime Minister and his wife isolated for 14 days.
  • On April 6, 2020, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam, said that people should use simple cloth facemasks to help slow the spread of the virus.
  • On May 1, 2020, Canada surpassed 200 daily coronavirus deaths.
  • On November 12, 2020, Canada surpassed 5,000 daily COVID-19 cases.

South Africa

CoViD-19 outbreak cases in South Africa
CoViD-19 outbreak cases in South Africa


New Zealand

  • The first case of COVID-19 in New Zealand was detected in late February 2020 in a person in their 60s.
  • On March 24, 2020, New Zealand reported over 100 daily coronavirus cases for the first time.
  • From April to November 2020, New Zealand reported between 0 to 50 daily cases.

Cruise ships

  • On the Diamond Princess cruise ship, out of 3,711 total passengers and crew members, 621 people, or 17% of all the people on board the ship tested positive for COVID-19. The ship ended its quarantine on February 18th.


  • In late February 2020, Nigeria had it’s first case in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In November 2020, Africa surpassed 2 million cases.

Food and hunger

The pandemic made it more difficult for millions of people all over the world to get enough food. People lost their jobs, so they did not have money to buy food. Farms were shut down, so there was less food made. Processing plants and food factories were shut down, so less food was made ready for people to eat.

In April, Arif Husain of the United Nations' World Food Program said that 130 million more people could go hungry, in addition to the 135 million who were already hungry before the pandemic began. He said that poorer countries would be more affected than rich countries because the way they move raw food from farms to cities and other places where people live is less organized and relies more on human beings than on automatic systems.

This hunger crisis is different from crises in other years because it happened to the whole world at the same time. That meant that people working in other countries could not help by sending money home.

All over the world, children who ate meals at school had less access to food when the schools were shut down.

Scientists from the University of Michigan said the pandemic was making it harder for people to find food. In a study published in May, they said out of of seven Americans over age 50 said they had trouble getting enough food before the pandemic, and it got worse when senior centers that provided meals were closed. Federal and state governments started programs to bring food to older people and children. There were also more food donation drives in towns.

Old people

In the United States, nursing homes had some of the highest rates of infection and death, 40% of all COVID-19 deaths in the country. Nursing homes are group homes for old people who need medical care, for disabled people who need medical care, and for people recovering from severe sickness or injury, like stroke patients.

Many people who live in nursing homes pay through the government program Medicaid, which pays less than Medicare or regular insurance companies. In June, many American nursing homes were caught throwing their regular patients out so they could make room for COVID-19 patients who could pay them more. Because nursing homes had stopped allowing visitors, it took longer for them to get caught. United States law requires nursing homes to warn patients 30 days before kicking them out, but the nursing homes did not do this.

Some of the nursing homes took the COVID-19 patients because state governments asked them to and they say they sent their elderly residents away because they were worried they would catch COVID-19 from the sick patients.


Because so many governments told people to stay at home, there was less air pollution than usual for that time of year. Pollution in New York fell by 50% and the use of coal in China fell by 40%. The European Space Agency showed pictures taken from a satellite of China's pollution disappearing during quarantine and coming back when everyone went back to work.

The pandemic and shutdowns made people use less electricity. In the United States, people got less of their electricity from coal power but kept using gas and renewable power like wind and solar power. This was because coal plants are more expensive to run, so power companies used them less.

Pollution from before the pandemic also affected what happened after people became sick. Scientists saw that more people died from COVID-19 in places with large amounts of air pollution. One team of scientists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg looked at air pollution information from satellites and statistics on COVID-19 deaths in Italy, France, Germany and Spain and saw that places with large amounts of nitrogen dioxide pollution had more people die from COVID-19. Nitrogen dioxide can damage the lungs.

The shutdowns and social distancing also affected animals. Human beings started staying at home about the same time in the spring when sea turtles like to come on land to lay their eggs. Turtle scientists in the United States and Thailand both reported more nests than usual on seashores in Florida and Phuket. They say it is because people are not coming to the beach or bringing their dogs to the beach and because there are fewer boats in the water nearby. Scientists also say they see more dugong and dolphins. With fewer cars driving down roads, salamanders, frogs, and other amphibians were able to cross them for their spring migration. According to citizen scientists from Big Night Maine, a group that watches amphibians, four amphibians made it across the roads alive for every one amphibian killed by cars. Most years, it is only two to one.

Not all ocean mammals did well. According to marine biologists in Florida, manatee deaths in April and May were 20% higher than in 2019. They say this was because many people decided to go boating because other things to do were closed.

Stopping the next pandemic

Researchers from the San Diego Zoo Global had the idea for a system that people could use to find dangerous germs before they become pandemics or even before they jump from other animals to humans. They said it was important to watch the wildlife trade, like in the Wuhan wet market. The scientists said that over the past eleven years it has gotten easier and easier to sequence viral genomes, and it does not have to be done by a large lab or by a government any more. The scientists said it would be better to spread the work out among more people.

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