False claim: The new coronavirus (COVID-19) is a common cold

A Facebook user shared an image on Facebook that claims the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is the same as a common cold. It refers to a page from a book that gives "common cold" as an example of a condition caused by "coronaviruses" ( here )​.

The virus referred to in the claim is COVID-19, which is a new strain of the human coronavirus, not the general coronavirus family. The common cold is usually mild, lasts between 1-2 weeks and includes a sore throat followed by runny nose and congestion, and finally a cough ( here ). COVID-19 causes symptoms including difficulty breathing, fever and a dry cough ( here )​. Some patients develop pneumonia and require hospitalization. If the pneumonia becomes more severe, it may be fatal. As of March 16, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) counted 6,606 deaths globally due to COVID-19 ( here ).

The World Health Organizations says: "Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19." ( here )​

The Stanford Children’s Health clearly explains the distinction needed to understand this false claim: "A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.​” ( here ) While it is in the family of coronaviruses, COVID-19 is a new virus affecting humans. ​


False: The new human coronavirus is not the same as a common cold

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work  here  .​