Infectious Diseases

Coronavirus, Flu or Cold: How Can You Tell the Difference?

Posted on 11 March 2020

For a large number of people, the symptoms of COVID-19 will be very similar to those of seasonal flu. However, some key differences set it apart: primarily the intensity of the symptoms and the recovery period.

Coronavirus: How it is different from seasonal flu and common cold. (2020). Retrieved 11 March 2020, from

The onset of coronavirus symptoms is more sudden, and recovery can take 2 to 6 weeks depending on severity. A stuffy/runny nose appears to be more indicative of flu or common cold, but most major seasonal flu symptoms are shared with coronavirus.

If you experience flu-like symptoms, but have not been in contact with any confirmed cases of COVID-19, it is still unlikely that what you have is coronavirus at this stage. However, coronavirus testing is currently limited, and even if you think you have flu or a cold, it may still be advisable to self-isolate at home, though official advice on this matter varies between countries. Those who have been in contact with a confirmed case or recently travelled abroad are advised not to visit the doctor or hospital, but to follow the relevant pathways their government has provided.

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