For years, coronaviruses have been regarded as benign pathogens responsible for mild respiratory symptoms resolving spontaneously within a few days. However, the emergence of new, highly infectious species increased interest in these pathogens. In November 2002, an epidemic caused by a previously unknown, highly infectious coronavirus species (SARS) broke out in one of the Chinese provinces. Ten years later, cases of a new respiratory disease caused by MERS coronavirus were reported. Both SARS and MERS are classified as zoonotic viruses, which may cause infections in humans and animals. Bats are their natural reservoir hosts. These viruses had to cross the species border twice, i.e. first transmission from bats to other mammals (intermediate hosts), followed by transmission from these mammals to humans, to become pathogenic to humans. Human-to human transmission of SARS and MERS occurs through close contact (droplets, direct contact). High resistance to environmental factors and the ability to survive in an aerosol are important species-specific pathogenicityrelated features of coronaviruses. The aim of this paper was to present the characteristics of the new coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV, which emerged in the human population in 2019. We discussed the course of transmission and epidemic outbreak, the symptoms and immune response to infection as well as treatment options and prognosis.