Facts & Figures: Coronavirus Outbreak
On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Save the Children was among the first to deliver critical supplies to health workers on the front lines of this global health crisis. Today, we are engaged in the most sweeping humanitarian response in our 101-year history, reaching children and families simultaneously in 87 countries, including the United States.
Learn more about coronavirus, Save the Children’s response – and how you can help children impacted by COVID-19.
To stay current and receive more tools and tips from our experts, sign up here. We’re all in this together.
Here’s what you need to know about the virus.
FAQs: What you need to know about COVID-19
What is a coronavirus?
What's the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?
How did the COVID-19 pandemic start?
How can I talk to my kids about coronavirus?
Why do schools need to close in response to COVID-19?
How is Save the Children responding to the Coronavirus pandemic?
What is Save the Children’s history of responding to global pandemic threats?
What is the impact of coronavirus on Save the Children's programs?
How is COVID-19 transmitted?
What is the treatment for COVID-19?
What can I do to protect myself and others?
Should I wear a face mask to protect against COVID-19?
Are children at greater risk of contracting coronavirus?
Does the Delta variant affect children differently than COVID-19?
Are masks effective against the Delta variant?
Should children continue to wear masks at school to protect against Delta and other COVID-19 variants?
Will the Delta variant cause more school closures or lockdowns?
What's the best way to protect my unvaccinated child from the Delta variant?
When will children under 12 be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?
How can I help children and families in coronavirus-affected areas and other countries at great risk?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold.
The novel coronavirus was a new strain of coronaviruses that had not been previously identified in humans. It initially described by authorities as a new strain of pneumonia. However, it was later confirmed to be a novel coronavirus, or new coronavirus.
An epidemic is an unexpected regional outbreak of specific illness. A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread worldwide.
On Dec. 31, 2019, the first case of a mysterious, pneumonia-like virus was first identified in Wuhan, China—a city of 11 million people. On February 11, the official name of the virus was announced as COVID-19 with 'CO' standing for 'corona,' 'VI' for 'virus,' 'D' for disease and ‘19’ for the year it started.
Health officials believe the virus was initially transmitted from animals to humans, as many of the early patients were linked to a large seafood and animal market in the city of Wuhan, China.
On January 21, 2020, the first case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in the United States.
Nine days later, on January 30, the World Health Organization had declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
It’s important to be calm, honest and informed when speaking to children about news related to the coronavirus. You can start by asking your child what they already know about the coronavirus.
Many times, children can take their cues from adults, so it’s important to answer their questions and address any misinformation simply and calmly. It also helps to validate their feelings, while reminding them what’s in their power—washing hands thoroughly and often, coughing and sneezing into their elbow, getting plenty of sleep, etc.
This is as important a time as ever to model strong behavior when it comes to practicing good hygiene.
Even with milder symptoms, kids may carry the coronavirus home and infect others.
For famillies and children learning at home, refer to our resources for preschool and elementary students here.
Save the Children has been responding to disasters and disease outbreaks for more than 100 years. We know what it takes to save children’s lives.
Globally, Save the Children was among the first to deliver critical supplies to health workers on the front lines of this crisis, as well as trusted information to reduce transmission and keep kids safe. Today, we’re doing all we can to protect vulnerable children from COVID-19, particularly those living in refugee camps, conflict zones and the world’s poorest communities where social distancing and safe handwashing are virtually impossible.
We are saving lives by preventing and managing the spread of the pandemic; helping children learn, stay safe, and return to school; increasing financial resilience through safety nets for families in need; and keeping children safe in their homes and communities.
Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit – medical teams who deliver rapid, quality public healthcare for children and their families caught up in catastrophic natural disasters, brutal conflicts and fast-spreading disease outbreaks – is also responding across the globe.
Here at home, we are working to make sure kids can learn and get the nutrition they need during this crisis, with more than 300K kids served and 6 Million meals prepared and delivered.
Your support today helps this lifesaving work.
Historically, Save the Children has been proactive in preparedness for pandemic threats.
Our global health teams have contributed substantially to World Health Organization (WHO) guidance documents related to mitigating the consequences of a global pandemic.
Save the Children’s emergency health teams have also played a key role in responding to major epidemics around the world, including a large-scale immunization campaign in response to the Yellow Fever outbreak in DRC as well as the cholera outbreak response in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and DRC.
In response to the 2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak, Save the Children was at the heart of the crisis from the start. During the diphtheria outbreak among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Save the Children was there, supporting the emotional and educational needs of vulnerable children.
Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit deployed to the Pacific Island of Samoa to support the government's response to the 2019 measles outbreak and help save the lives of children in need.
And currently, as Ebola continues to rage on in the DRC, our teams are actively racing to fight against the deadly outbreak.
Save the Children is working to ensure that all our programs, particularly in those countries most at risk from the outbreak, are ready to respond. This includes making sure our health clinics have enough soap and hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of infection.
Our teams are also focused on making sure we provide the right health messages to the community to help them protect themselves from the virus and know when to seek help.
Although this coronavirus originally spread from animals to humans, it’s been confirmed that this strain of the virus also spreads between humans. As of Thursday, January 30, the CDC had confirmed the nation’s first person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus.
Similar to the common cold, the coronavirus is spread via droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
There are now several authorized and recommended vaccines to protect against COVID-19 in the United States.
As with all viruses, practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent illness: wash your hands often, with soap and for at least 20 seconds. Avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
To protect others, cough and sneeze in your elbow; stay home when you’re not feeling well to help your body recover and avoid spreading germs to others.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. However, wearing a face mask can’t protect you against COVID-19 when used alone. Other preventative measures, including social distancing and good hygiene, are also necessary to protect yourself.
Please note that the CDC states that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age two, anyone who has trouble breathing or those unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Children do not appear to be at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with the virus, adults make up most of the known cases to date.
It is always important to protect your children by using good hygiene and avoiding close contact with others.
The Delta variant does not appear to affect children differently than Alpha or other variants. Children are not more susceptible to contracting it, nor are they more likely to become severely ill.
Masks help reduce transmission of the coronavirus, including the Delta variant.
Should children continue to wear masks at school to protect against Delta and other COVID-19 variants?
The arrival of the Delta variant is not a reason to stop wearing masks in schools or anywhere else. Children can still carry the Delta variant and transmit it to others in their family and community, particularly those who are unvaccinated and/or immunocompromised.
While another wave of cases is possible, areas with low vaccination rates could cause hospitals to become overwhelmed and prompt additional closures. In areas with high vaccination coverage, the risk of hospitals reaching their maximum capacity of COVID-19 patients is lowered.
Get vaccinated and encourage others to do so. The lower the community transmission, the less risk there is for kids.
The vaccine is expected for emergency use authorization likely between late 2021 to early 2022.
Children, their families and their communities impacted by coronavirus will need continued relief in the days, months and years to come. Please help our efforts around the world with a donation today.
Updated June 30, 2021
We’ll be in touch! By signing up to receive emails from Save the Children you will receive a subscription to our monthly eNews, access to breaking emergency alerts and opportunities to get involved. To ensure delivery of Save the Children emails to your inbox, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contact list.