At the end of December, 2019, a new disease of unknown aetiology appeared in Wuhan, China. It was quickly identified as anovelbetacoronavirus, and related toSARS-CoVand a number of other bat-borne SARS-like coronaviruses. The virus rapidly spread to all provinces in China, as well as a number of countries overseas, and was declared a Public HealthEmergencyof InternationalConcernby theDirectorGeneral of the World Health Organization on 30 January 2020. This paper describes the evolution of the outbreak, and the known properties of the novel virus, SARS-CoV-2 and the clinical disease it causes, COVID-19, and comments on some of the important gaps in our knowledge of the virus and the disease it causes. The virus is the third zoonotic coronavirus, after SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but appears to be the only one with pandemic potential.