Coronavirus Disease 2019 Also called COVID-19

Signs and Symptoms

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms that include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Some people have also reported less common symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms usually occur within 2-14 days of being exposed to the virus.

But many people don’t have any symptoms and don’t even know they are infected. Early data from countries with more widespread testing suggest that as many as 1 out of 2 people infected with COVID-19 may not have obvious symptoms.

The concern, of course, is that those who without symptoms can unknowingly pass the disease on to other people, especially those who could get very ill. It’s another reason why stay-at-home orders and distancing are so important.

How Serious Is the Infection? 

Based on what we know today, most people with the new coronavirus will have mild or moderate symptoms. This means they can usually recover at home, while isolating themselves from the rest of the household. 

But for as many as 1 in 5 people with COVID-19, the virus can be more serious. The main reason that people end up in the hospital is for difficulty breathing. COVID-19 can lead to pneumonia, not getting enough oxygen, heart problems and even death. These complications are more common in older adults and those with existing health conditions, including heart disease.

Last updated: May 12, 2020

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