What are the early symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

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.

Once a person has contracted coronavirus, it can take 2–14 days for symptoms to appear. The average incubation period appears to be roughly 5–6 days.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms of coronavirus can be mild and come on gradually. According to The Lancet, when hospital admission is necessary, this typically occurs from 7 days onwards.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that a person with COVID-19 can experience a wide range of symptoms, often including a dry cough and shortness of breath.

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

  • fever
  • chills
  • repeated shaking with chills
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • new loss of taste or smell

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


Doctors consider a temperature of 100.4°F or higher to be a fever. 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

Shortness of breath is a subjective feeling. However, those experiencing shortness of breath may describe it feeling as if they are suffocating, or unable to catch their breath.

What are the other symptoms?

Other symptoms of COVID-19 may include:

  • blocked nose
  • diarrhea
  • sputum, or coughed up mucus and saliva
  • nausea
  • vomiting