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Last updated: 06 April 2020 at 10.10am

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Symptoms of coronavirus

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of coronavirus to appear. They can be similar to the symptoms of cold and flu.

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:

Compare symptoms of coronavirus, flu and cold

Symptoms

Coronavirus

Symptoms range from mild to severe

Flu

Abrupt onset of symptoms

Cold

Gradual onset of symptoms
Fever or chillsCommonCommonRare
CoughCommon (usually dry)Common (usually dry)Mild
FatigueSometimesCommonSometimes
Aches and painsSometimesCommonCommon
Sore throatSometimesSometimesCommon
HeadachesSometimesCommonRare
Shortness of breathSometimesNoNo
Runny or Stuffy NoseRareSometimesCommon
DiarrhoeaRareSometimes in childrenNo
SneezingNoNoCommon

If you have any of these symptoms, you should behave as if you have the virus and self-isolate for 14 days. People in your household will need to restrict their movements.

Read more about coronavirus testing

Restricted movements and self-isolation

How coronavirus is spread

Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets.

You could get the virus if you:

  • come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing
  • touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on and bring your unwashed hands to your face (eyes, nose or mouth)

As it's a new illness, we do not know how easily the virus spreads from person to person or how long the virus stays on surfaces. Spread is most likely from those who have symptoms.

The virus may survive for up to 2 days if someone who has it coughs or sneezes on a surface. Simple household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. Clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant.

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.