By 27 February 2020, the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused 82 623 confirmed cases and 2858 deaths globally, more than severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) (8273 cases, 775 deaths) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) (1139 cases, 431 deaths) caused in 2003 and 2013, respectively. COVID-19 has spread to 46 countries internationally. Total fatality rate of COVID-19 is estimated at 3.46% by far based on published data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). Average incubation period of COVID-19 is around 6.4 days, ranges from 0 to 24 days. The basic reproductive number (R0 ) of COVID-19 ranges from 2 to 3.5 at the early phase regardless of different prediction models, which is higher than SARS and MERS. A study from China CDC showed majority of patients (80.9%) were considered asymptomatic or mild pneumonia but released large amounts of viruses at the early phase of infection, which posed enormous challenges for containing the spread of COVID-19. Nosocomial transmission was another severe problem. A total of 3019 health workers were infected by 12 February 2020, which accounted for 3.83% of total number of infections, and extremely burdened the health system, especially in Wuhan. Limited epidemiological and clinical data suggest that the disease spectrum of COVID-19 may differ from SARS or MERS. We summarize latest literatures on genetic, epidemiological, and clinical features of COVID-19 in comparison to SARS and MERS and emphasize special measures on diagnosis and potential interventions. This review will improve our understanding of the unique features of COVID-19 and enhance our control measures in the future.