What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus?

13 March 2020

Update: official UK guidance on how to avoid catching or spreading the new coronavirus has changed since we first wrote this article. You can read the latest advice on the NHS website here.

The NHS says that you should stay at home if you have symptoms including a high temperature and a new, continuous cough.

 New advice published on 18 May now says that anyone experiencing loss of taste or smell (known as 'anosmia') should also self-isolate.

The World Health Organisation has said the most common symptoms are a dry cough, fever, and tiredness, but some people may also experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Symptoms tend to emerge around five days after catching the virus, although estimates suggest it could be up to 14 days after.

Around one out of every six people who gets Covid-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing, the WHO has said. These are more likely to be older people and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes. 

There are also some people who are infected and do not develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

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What to do if you develop symptoms

If you experience either of the two major symptoms of Covid-19 the NHS says to look out for (a high temperature or a continuous cough) you should stay at home for seven days and you do not need to contact their 111 service. If your fever is gone after seven days you can return to your normal routine (even if you still have a cough), but if you still have a fever remain at home until your temperature returns to normal levels. New advice now says anyone experiencing loss of taste or smell (known as 'anosmia') should also self-isolate.

However, if you can’t cope with the symptoms at home, if you get worse or if you have not improved after seven days then you should use the online 111 service wherever you are in the UK.

Only call the 111 service if you cannot get help from the online service. If it is a medical emergency then call 999. 

Do not visit your GP, pharmacy or hospital.

What people you live with should do if you develop symptoms

There is also advice for people who live in the same house as you.  If you live with others, they should stay at home for at least 14 days to stop the virus spreading. Anyone else who then develops symptoms should remain at home for seven days from the first day of their symptoms (even if this means they stay at home for more than 14 days in total).But if they don’t show symptoms then after 14 days they may leave the home.

The NHS says: “If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.” If that isn’t possible then you should try to keep your distance from them.

We’ve written more about what to do if you think you may have Covid-19.

We’ve written more about how to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

Update 17 March 2020

We updated this article to reflect the latest advice from the government.

Update 18 May 2020

This article was updated to reflect new government guidance about symptoms including a loss of taste or smell.

Update 30 July 2020

We've updated this article to reflect the latest advice from the government.

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