Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The virus seems to originate from animals and spread rapidly in humans from the end of 2019 onwards, first under the form of an epidemic in China, and later as a pandemic.


The most commont symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a fever
  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of sense of smell and taste
  • sore throat
  • chest pain

Have you got symptoms?

Contact your GP by phone. Only patients with a serious case of COVID-19 are admitted to the hospital.


The virus spreads from the mouth and nosed of infected persons via droplets and direct contact with others and fairly contagious. 

Risk factors

  • Most infected personse do not become seriously ill: they develop (nearly) no symptoms, an infection of the upper airways or a flu-like condition. 
  • smaller part of infected persons develop a serious illness, predominantly under the form of pneumonia, where complications are possible and ventilation on intensive care can become necessary.
  • Elderly infected persons or persons with other underlying conditions (diabetes, obesity, lung disorders, cardiac and vascular diseases,…) have a strongly increased risk for becoming critically ill. 
  • Every now and then people with no risk factors become critically ill too. 

The death rate of COVID-19 seems to be just below 0.5%, but because of the high number of susceptible persons, the rapid spread and the lack of efficacious medication, COVID-19 quickly leads to an overburdening of the healthcare systems.

Avoid infection and spread

  • Wash your hands regularly with water and soap / disinfectant hand sanitiser.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze. Preferably use a disposable tissue and immediately throw it in a closed bin. 
  • Avoid close contact with other - keep a safe distance (of approximately 1,5 metre).
  • In situations where keeping distance is not possible: use a (linen) mouth mask. .
Help avoid infection

Question and more info

If you have questions about the coronavirus as a patient, GP or employer, you can always call the government number 0800 146 89. The number is manned 24/7.

More information on COVID-19?

Support research into COVID-19

In dialogue with international experts, UZ Leuven and KU Leuven's top researchers have joined forces to learn to understand the effects of COVID-19 on humans, to develop and apply a curative treatments as well as develop an efficient vaccine. Both the teams of professor Marc Van Ranst and professor Johan Neyts are doing everything they can at the moment. 

Your financial support can help the newly started research lines gain momentum. Thanks to your contribution it will be possible to overcome this pandemic. 

Read how you can support our research
Last edit: 25 May 2023