The outbreak started in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in China in December 2019 and was linked to a food market in the town. The virus was identified by Chinese health authorities on January 7th, 2020.
The virus has been given the name SARS-CoV-2 and is a coronavirus that can cause respiratory infection in humans. The disease has been given the name covid-19.
The new coronavirus causes respiratory infections, ranging from mild symptoms to severe disease and, in rare cases, death.
The disease is transmitted from person to person and has spread from China to large parts of the world, including Europe and Norway.
On January 30th, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared "a public health emergency of international concern". The declaration is intended to strengthen WHO's co-ordination of efforts to prevent further spread of the disease caused by the new virus.
WHO declared the outbreak to be a pandemic on March 12th, 2020.
More information from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health: