What are the signs and symptoms of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Updated: Jun 16, 2020
  • Author: Medscape Drugs & Diseases; more...
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Patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have varying signs and symptoms at the onset of illness. However, most patients will experience the following [1] :

  • Fever (83-99%)

  • Cough (59-82%)

  • Fatigue (44-70%)

  • Anorexia (40-84%)

  • Shortness of breath (31-40%)

  • Sputum production (28-33%)

  • Myalgias (11-35%)


Atypical presentations have been described, and older adults and persons with medical comorbidities may have delayed presentation of fever and respiratory symptoms. Fever has been present in 44% of patients at hospital admission and later developed in 89% during hospitalization.

Less common symptoms (< 10%) include headache, confusion, rhinorrhea, sore throat, hemoptysis, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some patients have experienced gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea prior to developing fever and lower respiratory tract signs and symptoms. Anecdotally, anosmia or ageusia may preceed the onset of respiratory symptoms, but more information is needed to understand its role in identifying COVID-19.

Signs/symptoms in pediatric patients are similar to those of adults but are usually milder, with most children presenting with symptoms of upper respiratory infection. However, severe outcomes have been reported in children including COVID-19 associated deaths. Data suggest that infants (age < 12 months) may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to older children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partners are also investigating reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19.

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