Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is an infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that first emerged in late 2019. It is mostly a pulmonary infection that can spread to other tissues. COVID-19 patients have registered a wide variety of symptoms, from minor aches and pains to acute disease. Symptoms will occur 2 to 14 days after virus exposure.
The majority of patients infected with the COVID-19 virus will have mild to moderate respiratory symptoms and will recover without needing any special care. People above the age of 65, as well as those with existing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer, are at a higher risk of developing a serious illness.
Being well educated on the COVID-19 virus, the illness it causes, and how it progresses is the only way to deter and slow down transmission. Clean your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based rub to protect yourself and others from bacteria, and avoid rubbing your skin.
When an infected individual coughs or sneezes, the COVID-19 virus spreads mainly by droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose, so respiratory etiquette is also necessary (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
Follow these steps to avoid contamination and slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Hands can be washed with soap and water on a daily basis, or cleaned with an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Keep at least 1 meter separating you and people who are coughing or sneezing.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover the mouth and nose.
- When you’re sick, stay at home.
- Smoking and other lung-damaging practices should be avoided.
- Avoid unnecessary travel and avoid big crowds of people to practice physical distancing.
COVID-19 has a variety of effects on various populations. The majority of infected patients will have mild to moderate symptoms and recover without the need for hospitalization.
The following are the most common symptoms:
- Dry cough
Symptoms that are less common:
- Pains and aches
- Throat irritation
- Loss of taste or smell
- A rash on the skin, as well as discoloration of the fingers and toes
- Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath.
- Chest pain or pressure.
- Loss of speech or movement.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms, seek medical help right away. Often call advance before going to the hospital or a health clinic. Mild symptoms should be managed at home by people who are otherwise well. It takes 5–6 days on average for signs to appear after a person is infected with the virus, but it can take up to 14 days.
COVID-19 and influenza (Flu) are also infectious respiratory diseases caused by various viruses. Infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) causes COVID-19, whereas influenza is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
COVID-19 seems to be more contagious than flu and can induce more severe illness in some people. It can also take longer for patients to develop symptoms, and they may be infectious for longer periods of time. In the parts below, you’ll find more detail about the variations between flu and COVID-19.
Since some flu and COVID-19 symptoms are identical, it can be difficult to distinguish between them based on symptoms alone, and tests may be needed to validate a diagnosis.
Although we learn more about COVID-19 and the virus that triggers it every day, there is still a lot we don’t discover. This page contrasts COVID-19 and flu based on the most up-to-date statistics.