Since the identification of the first cases of the coronavirus in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, there has been a significant amount of confusion regarding the origin and spread of the so-called ‘coronavirus’, officially named SARS-CoV-2, and the cause of the disease COVID-19. Conflicting messages from the media and officials across different countries and organizations, the abundance of disparate sources of information, unfounded conspiracy theories on the origins of the newly emerging virus and the inconsistent public health measures across different countries, have all served to increase the level of anxiety in the population. Where did the virus come from? How is it transmitted? How does it cause disease? Is it like flu? What is a pandemic? What can we do to stop its spread? Written by a leading expert, this concise and accessible introduction provides answers to the most common questions surrounding coronavirus for a general audience.