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All you need to know about Early symptoms of COVID-19 | by heidi


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a viral infection that causes COVID-19. Symptoms can affect the airways and lungs, although this may vary from person to person.

The following article outlines the early signs and symptoms of the infection, how to spot them, and what to do if a person experiences symptoms.

Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.

What are the early symptoms?

A dry cough is a common early symptom of coronavirus infection.

They may also have a combination of at least two of the following symptoms:



repeated shaking with chills

muscle pain


sore throat

new loss of taste or smell

According to 2020 researchTrusted Source, the prevalence of some of these symptoms appears to be:

Symptom Prevalence (%)

Dry cough 60.4

Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties 41.1

Fever 55.5

Muscle pain 44.6

Headache 42.6

Sore throat 31.2

Smell and taste disturbance 64.4

Fatigue 68.3


A person with a fever will feel hot to touch on their back or chest.

Dry cough

A dry cough does not produce mucus.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), if a person notices they are coughing a lot for over an hour, or they have three or more coughing episodes in a day, they may have coronavirus.


Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness and an overall lack of energy. A person with fatigue may feel drained, weak, or sluggish.

Shortness of breath

What are the other symptoms?

blocked nose


sputum, or coughed up mucus and saliva




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From our sister site Healthline, TRANSFORM: Future of Health examines the science and societal impacts of what’s next in health and wellness, from virtual healthcare to cancer-detecting AI.

What are the early symptoms in children?

Early symptoms of coronavirus infection in children are similar to those in adults.

Symptom Prevalence (%)

Fever 56

Dry cough 54

Shortness of breath 13

Children may also develop additional symptoms, such as:

blocked nose

muscle pain

runny nose



abdominal pain

Children with COVID-19 are likely to recover in 1–2 weeks with no additional issues.

Parents and carers with children who are showing signs of a coronavirus infection should contact their health service provider and keep the child at home.

The child should also stay away from other people, especially those at higher risk of developing severe illness from coronavirus.

When to seek medical attention

Anyone noticing the following symptoms should seek medical attention immediately:

trouble breathing

constant pain, or pressure, in the chest


inability to wake up

blue tinted lips or face

A person with any of these symptoms, or other symptoms that are severe or causing concern, should call 911 immediately.

People should also tell the service operator that they think they have contracted coronavirus. If possible, they should put on a cloth face mask or covering before help arrives.

What to do about early symptoms

If a person notices that they or a child has symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, they should:

self-isolate at home, keeping separate from others in the property

stay indoors, unless seeking medical aid

get plenty of rest

stay hydrated with plenty of liquids

take over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medicine to soothe symptoms

monitor symptoms and phone the doctor if necessary

wear a face mask when around other individuals

follow local health department guidelines

wash hands regularly and thoroughly

avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

keep separate glasses, cups, dishes, eating utensils, towels, and bedding if sharing a house with others

clean and disinfect surfaces, such as doorknobs, counters, remote controls, phones, keyboards, bathroom surfaces, or tables frequently

A person can learn how to wash their hands properly here.

How to care for someone with early symptoms

These can include:

helping the care receiver follow any instructions from a doctor

keeping them hydrated

helping with groceries, prescriptions, and other requirements

caring for any pets

providing the care receiver with OTC medications when appropriate

monitoring their symptoms and looking for signs that they may need more medical help

washing cloth face masks after use

monitoring their own health for coronavirus symptoms

wearing disposable gloves when washing the care receiver’s dirty laundry

cleaning and disinfecting surfaces daily

using a separate bedroom and bathroom from the care receiver

ensuring good air ventilation to reduce chances of getting the virus

The person giving care should make sure they limit contact, as much as possible, with the individual they are caring for.

The carer should wear a face mask when near the sick person, and gloves if they come into contact with their blood, stool, or bodily fluids.

If the care receiver is trouble breathing easily, they should also always wear a face mask when the carer is nearby.

Frequently washing hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water is critical for the carer.

How is it transmitted?

Coronavirus typically spreads via small water droplets that a person with the virus produces when they talk, cough, or sneeze. When another person inhales these droplets, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can enter the body.

Droplets in the air can also land on surfaces and objects. People who touch these contaminated surfaces are at risk of infection if they then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth before washing their hands.

People should follow the guidelines put in place by their local health organizations to ensure they keep themselves and others safe.


They include:

washing hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water

using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if washing hands is not possible

avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

keeping away from people with a coronavirus infection

keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from other people

covering mouth and nose with a face cover when around others

covering nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing

cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces