Skip to main content
Move the World.
what are the coronavirus symptoms

Lead image design by Andrew Brumagen.

Editor's note: This article is no longer being updated. Please refer to the CDC for information about SARS-CoV-2, including its symptoms.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, one that has never been seen until now.

Coronaviruses are a family of spiky viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses in humans, including SARS, MERS, and the common cold.

Since mild COVID-19 symptoms can look so much like the common cold, allergies, or the flu, it can be difficult — and anxiety inducing — to tell whether you have the pandemic disease or something else. (At the bottom, we'll offer some tips on telling them apart.)

Freethink is here to help. On this page, you will find the symptoms to look out for, beginning with the major ones agreed upon by health bodies like the WHO and CDC. Below those will be rarer symptoms, followed by other potential symptoms being proposed by teams of researchers.

If you have fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the WHO recommends seeking medical attention.

The more patients who are diagnosed, the more symptoms may be able to be identified and distinguished from other illnesses; we'll keep updating the article accordingly.

For most people who become infected, these symptoms will be mild or may not even show up at all.

For others, they could lead to trouble breathing, hospitalization, assisted breathing with precious ventilators, and even death. This is why it is so crucial to practice soaping up, social distancing, and wearing a mask; even if you end up coming out ok, someone else you come into contact with may not.

What Are the Coronavirus Symptoms?

The WHO and CDC have developed a list of the most common symptoms of COVID-19.

These are:

  • Cough (usually dry; no phlegm)
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste and smell

If you have fever, cough, and shortness of breath — the COVID-19 Triple Crown — the WHO recommends seeking medical attention. Most people who do not have these symptoms do not require medical attention, and going to the doctor unnecessarily may put you at more risk of contracting COVID-19.

Severe Coronavirus Symptoms

In severe cases, COVID-19 may progress to:

  • Pneumonia
  • Rapid, labored breathing (30 or more breaths a minute)
  • Low blood oxygen (93% or less)
  • Bluish lips or face
  • New confusion or inability to arouse yourself

Needless to say, if you have difficulty breathing or any more severe symptoms, you should seek medical help immediately. In critical cases, COVID-19 can lead to respiratory failure, septic shock, multiple organ failure, and death.

Up Next

Public Health
How to Make 100 Million Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine in a Year
coronavirus vaccine
Public Health
How to Make 100 Million Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine in a Year
Creating a new vaccine is slow and expensive. One biotech firm thinks a “plug-and-play” vaccine could change that.

Creating a new vaccine is slow and expensive. One biotech firm thinks a “plug-and-play” vaccine could change that.

Public Health
FDA to Begin Testing Chloroquine as Coronavirus Treatment
Chloroquine
Public Health
FDA to Begin Testing Chloroquine as Coronavirus Treatment
The FDA has announced plans to begin testing chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus behind COVID-19.

The FDA has announced plans to begin testing chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus behind COVID-19.

Public Health
Flu Drug May Be an Effective New Coronavirus Treatment
new coronavirus treatment
Public Health
Flu Drug May Be an Effective New Coronavirus Treatment
The Japanese flu drug favipiravir is an effective and safe new coronavirus treatment, Chinese officials claim after testing it on 340 patients.

The Japanese flu drug favipiravir is an effective and safe new coronavirus treatment, Chinese officials claim after testing it on 340 patients.

Freethink Voices
An Epidemic of False Confidence Related to COVID-19
coronavirus predictions
Freethink Voices
An Epidemic of False Confidence Related to COVID-19
To distinguish between the most optimistic and pessimistic pandemic scenarios, we need to measure how many people have developed an immunity to the virus.
By Danny Hillis

To distinguish between the most optimistic and pessimistic pandemic scenarios, we need to measure how many people have developed an immunity to the virus.

Public Health
Doctors: Home-Based Care for Coronavirus Could Save Lives
home-based care for coronavirus
Public Health
Doctors: Home-Based Care for Coronavirus Could Save Lives
A group of doctors in Italy is making the case for more home-based care for coronavirus patients as a way of coping with the overwhelming COVID-19 outbreak.

A group of doctors in Italy is making the case for more home-based care for coronavirus patients as a way of coping with the overwhelming COVID-19 outbreak.

Public Health
What Is Protecting Kids Against the Coronavirus?
children coronavirus
Public Health
What Is Protecting Kids Against the Coronavirus?
Something is protecting kids against the coronavirus, and researchers want to figure out what it is so they can use it to develop a treatment.

Something is protecting kids against the coronavirus, and researchers want to figure out what it is so they can use it to develop a treatment.

Public Health
New App Uses Location Data to Track the Coronavirus
track the coronavirus
Public Health
New App Uses Location Data to Track the Coronavirus
Researchers from MIT and Harvard have created a smartphone app to track the coronavirus, and it puts a premium on user privacy.

Researchers from MIT and Harvard have created a smartphone app to track the coronavirus, and it puts a premium on user privacy.

Robotics
The Coronavirus Hospital Staffed by Robots
coronavirus hospital
Robotics
The Coronavirus Hospital Staffed by Robots
A robot-run coronavirus hospital in Wuhan, China, is just one remarkable example of how technology is helping combat the global COVID-19 outbreak.

A robot-run coronavirus hospital in Wuhan, China, is just one remarkable example of how technology is helping combat the global COVID-19 outbreak.

The New Space Race
Here's What Happens to the Human Body in Outer Space
Here's What Happens to the Human Body in Outer Space
The New Space Race
Here's What Happens to the Human Body in Outer Space
As the idea of colonizing space becomes mainstream, it’s important to keep in mind that traveling in outer space...
By Mike Riggs

As the idea of colonizing space becomes mainstream, it’s important to keep in mind that traveling in outer space does some crazy stuff to our bodies.