COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Common symptoms of coronavirus include:
- a fever (high temperature – 38 degrees Celsius or above)
- a cough – this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
- shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
Compare symptoms of coronavirus, flu and cold
Symptoms range from mild to severe
Abrupt onset of symptoms
Gradual onset of symptoms
|Fever or chills||Common||Common||Rare|
|Cough||Common (usually dry)||Common (usually dry)||Mild|
|Aches and pains||Sometimes||Common||Common|
|Shortness of breath||Sometimes||No||No|
|Runny or Stuffy Nose||Rare||Sometimes||Common|
|Diarrhoea||Rare||Sometimes in children||No|
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.
Hay fever symptoms
The pollen count is higher now so more people will experience hay fever. If you normally get hay fever, you will be familiar with the typical signs and symptoms. They usually occur about the same time every year.
Typical hay fever symptoms include:
- a runny or blocked nose
- itchy red or watery eyes
- itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
While there are some similarities between the symptoms of coronavirus and hay fever, there are also ways to tell the difference.
Hay fever symptoms get worse when you are exposed to certain triggers. For example pollen, weeds or grass.
Hay fever does not cause a high temperature and most people with hay fever do not feel unwell.
While coronavirus can cause symptoms in your upper airways such as loss of smell or a blocked nose, it is usually associated with a high temperature, aches and pains and a cough.
Over the counter medicines from your pharmacy can help to treat the symptoms of hay fever. If you take steroid nasal sprays you should continue to do so.
Talk to your GP if you have severe or persistent symptoms.
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.