In December 2019, a novel beta (β) coronavirus eventually named SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, causing an outbreak of severe and even fatal pneumonia in humans. The virus has spread very rapidly to many countries across the world, resulting in the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Clinically, the diagnosis of this unprecedented illness, called coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), becomes difficult because it shares many symptoms with other respiratory pathogens, including influenza and parainfluenza viruses. Therefore, laboratory diagnosis is crucial for the clinical management of patients and the implementation of disease control strategies to contain SARS-CoV-2 at clinical and population level. Here, we summarize the main clinical and imaging findings of COVID-19 patients and discuss the advances, features, advantages, and limitations of different laboratory methods used for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.