The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an emergent public health crisis threatening the current world health establishment. The SARS-Co-2 was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. There have been about 6.5 million reported cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and about 350 000 reported deaths throughout the world within the last 6 months from the onset of the epidemic. The virus is primarily transmitted by inhalation or contact with infected droplets. The COVID-19 patient usually presents with fever, cough, sore throat and breathlessness. Currently, available data indicate that the majority of people with the disease have mild symptoms, while about 20% present with moderate-to-severe disease. About 5% of these may progress to pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and multi-organ dysfunction. To date, there is no recommended medical treatment, and supportive measures are a crucial part of management. The case fatality rate of SARS-CoV-2 is lower than that of its two coronavirus predecessors, that is, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The full impact of this new pandemic on health, social and economic well-being of humankind is yet to be ascertained.