Symptoms of COVID-19


Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue, congestion, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

  • These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after you are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms, and some people may not have any symptoms.

  • Even after recovering from COVID-19, some people may have lingering symptoms such as fatigue, cough, or joint pain. The long-term health effects are still unknown but there may be permanent damage to the heart, lungs, or other organs. This is more likely in those who had more severe illness but may also be possible even in those who had mild illness.

  • Talk to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about symptoms.

How it spreads

  • People can spread the COVID-19 disease to each other.

  • The disease spreads by droplets or aerosols (tiny particles) from the nose and mouth when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes, or exhales.

  • The most common way COVID-19 spreads is through close contact. When people are close to each other, the droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. It may be possible for people to breathe the droplets into their lungs. It is important to stay at least 6 feet away from other people in public. At home, someone who is sick should stay alone and in one room as much as possible.

  • COVID-19 can also sometimes spread through airborne transmission. This means that aerosols (small droplets or particles) can sometimes linger in the air for minutes to hours, and may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet from the person with COVID-19 or after they have left the room.

  • Airborne transmission of COVID-19 is more likely to happen in indoor spaces without good ventilation, or when the infected person was breathing heavily, like when singing or exercising.

  • It is possible that COVID-19 can spread when droplets land on surfaces and objects that other people then touch, though this is not thought to be a common way that it spreads. It is important to wash your hands before you touch your mouth, nose, face, or eyes. Clean surfaces that are touched often, especially if someone in the house is sick.

  • Infected people may be able to spread the disease before they have symptoms or feel sick.

  • A person can also spread the disease if they have no symptoms. Research has shown that around 40-50% of people infected do not develop symptoms.

For more information, see CDC: How COVID-19 Spreads.


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