Coronavirus Symptoms (COVID-19)

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Last updated: February 29, 4:40 GMT – We will continue to update and improve this page as we gather new information and details. 

Reported illnesses have ranged from people with mild symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. 

Symptoms can include: 

  • Fever 
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath 

Symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [1]Content: 

Typical Symptoms

COVID-19 typically causes flu-like symptoms including a fever and cough. 

In some patients – particularly the elderly and others with other chronic health conditions – these symptoms can develop into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

It seems to start with a feverfollowed by a dry cough.

After a week, it can lead to shortness of breath, with about 20% of patients requiring hospital treatment.

Notably, the COVID-19 infection rarely seems to cause a runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat (these symptoms have been observed in only about 5% of patients). Sore throat, sneezing, and stuffy nose are most often signs of a cold.

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80% of cases are mild 

Based on all 72,314 cases of COVID-19 confirmed, suspected, and asymptomatic cases in China as of February 11, a paper by the Chinese CCDC released on February 17 and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology has found that:

  • 80.9% of infections are mild (with flu-like symptoms) and can recover at home.
  • 13.8% are severe, developing severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath.
  • 4.7% as critical and can include: respiratory failureseptic shock, and multi-organ failure.
  • in about 2% of reported cases the virus is fatal.
  • Risk of death increases the older you are.
  • Relatively few cases are seen among children.

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Pre-existing conditions

See also: Death Rates by Existing Conditions 

Pre-existing illnesses that put patients at higher risk: 

  1. cardiovascular disease
  2. diabetes
  3. chronic respiratory disease
  4. hypertension

That said, some otherwise healthy people do seem to develop a severe form of pneumonia after being infected by the virus. The reason for this is being investigated as we try to learn more about this new virus.

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Examples of possible development of symptoms (from actual cases) 

A man in his 40s in Japan:

  • Day #1: malaise and muscle pain
  • later diagnosed with pneumonia

A man in his 60s in Japan:

  • Day #1: initial symptoms of low-grade fever and sore throat.

A man in his 40s in Japan:

  • Day #1: chillssweating and malaise
  • Day #4: fevermuscle pain and cough

A woman in her 70s, in Japan:

  • Day #1: 38° fever for a few minutes
  • Day #2-3: went on a bus tour
  • Day #5: visited a medical institution
  • Day #6: showed symptoms of pneumonia

A woman in her 40s, in Japan:

  • Day #1: low-grade fever
  • Day #2: 38° fever
  • Day #6: being treated at home.

A man in his 60s, in Japan: 

  • Day #1: Cold
  • Day #6: Fever of 39° C. (102.2 F) 
  • Day #8: Pneumonia

Another patient, in China with a history of type 2 diabetes and hypertension:

  • Jan. 22: Fever and cough
  • Feb. 5: Died 

First death in the Philippines (a 44-year-old Chinese thought to have had other pre-existing health conditions):

  • Jan. 25: Fever, cough, and sore throat (hospitalized) 
  • Developed severe pneumonia
  • Feb. 2: Died

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How long do symptoms last?

Using available preliminary data, the Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission published on Feb. 28 by WHO, [5] which is based on 55,924 laboratory confirmed cases, observed the following median time from symptoms onset to clinical recovery:

  • mild cases: approximately 2 weeks
  • severe or critical disease: 3 – 6 weeks
  • time from onset to the development of severe disease (including hypoxia): 1 week

Among patients who have died, the time from symptom onset to outcome ranges from 2 – 8 weeks.

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Symptoms observed in hospitalized patients with COVID-19

Below we list the symptoms, with percentages representing the proportion of patients displaying that symptom, as observed in hospitalized patients tested and identified as having laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection. These findings refer to hospitalized patients, therefore generally representing serious or critical cases. The majority of cases of COVID-19 (about 80%) is mild.

Findings from the Wang et al study published on JAMA and based on 138 hospitalized patients [2]

Common symptoms included: 
(Wang et al study) [2]
Dry cough59.4%

The median time observed:

  • from first symptom to → Dyspnea (Shortness of breath) = 5.0 days
  • from first symptom to → Hospital admission = 7.0 days
  • from first symptom to → ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) = 8.0 days (when occurring) ……

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