Most people will experience mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms for up to 2 weeks. Symptoms usually begin 2–14 days after a person has come into contact with the virus. Symptoms can vary from person to person but may include flu- or cold-like symptoms.
The type, severity, and progression of COVID-19 symptoms will determine how COVID-19 affects a person’s daily living. Some people may experience no symptoms at all, while others will require treatment in a hospital.
Keep reading to learn more about the timeline and progression of COVID-19 symptoms.
There has been some research into the order that COVID-19 symptoms might develop. For example, a 2020 study in Frontiers in Public Health used statistical models to predict how COVID-19 symptoms might develop.
It is important to remember that symptoms will progress differently depending on the person.
Early symptoms: Week 1
COVID-19 symptoms typically occur
Fever is the most common symptom of COVID-19, occurring in around
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.
Next symptoms: Week 2
COVID-19 may then cause a cough, sore throat, and body aches or headaches. The Frontiers in Public Health study also suggested that COVID-19 could then cause nausea and vomiting, which would develop sooner than it would in similar respiratory infections, such as MERS or SARS.
In severe cases, COVID-19 can require hospitalization. A
Some people will experience acute respiratory distress syndrome after 9 days. This is where the lungs fail to provide the body with sufficient oxygen. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around
In these and other severe cases, doctors may admit people to an intensive care unit around 10 days after symptom onset. Around 26% to 32% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 will require treatment in an intensive care unit.
However, the type and order of symptoms will vary from person to person. For example, some people will experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea before fever or coughing. Others will experience no symptoms at all.
According to the
Some people will experience severe symptoms, such as:
People who experience these symptoms must seek immediate medical attention.
Some symptoms may take longer to go away. For example, loss of taste and smell can last for
According to the
People with severe COVID-19 symptoms or weakened immune systems may need to isolate for longer. The CDC recommends up to 20 days of isolation after symptoms first occur in these cases. However, a doctor may recommend a different duration, depending on the case.
People with a positive test result but without COVID-19 symptoms are still infectious and should isolate for 10 days after the date of the test.
Most people will experience no long-term effects from COVID-19.
However, others may experience long COVID. This is where symptoms persist for several weeks or months. The duration of time that symptoms must persist to constitute long COVID varies. For example, the
Long COVID can include any COVID-19 symptoms and can occur in people who experienced mild, moderate, or severe symptoms.
There are many variants of SARS-CoV-2 that can cause COVID-19. Each variant is the result of a random mutation of the original virus.
The variants cause similar COVID-19 symptoms. However, some data suggest that the Delta variant is more likely to cause cold-like symptoms, such as:
- runny nose
- sore throat
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are respiratory diseases with
Some symptoms are
SARS-CoV-2 can also spread
Mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 may not require immediate medical attention. However, it is critical to contact a health professional for symptoms that
COVID-19 can cause a range of symptoms for around two weeks. The order of these symptoms will vary from case to case. However, some research suggests fever is most likely to occur first.
Some cases of COVID-19 cause severe symptoms, which typically emerge after around a week. People with these symptoms must seek immediate medical attention.