What are the symptoms of coronavirus disease COVID-19?


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Efforts are underway to "flatten the curve" on the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

There has been more than 10,000 deaths from coronavirus.

In the United States, deaths are now in the hundreds. Indiana has had 2 confirmed deaths from the virus.

With varying mortality rates based on region or access to good health care, COVID-19 has 10 to 34 times the mortality rate of the flu.

Symptoms of COVID-19

COVID-19 symptoms. (CDC)

The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms could include: dry cough, fatigue, achiness, nasal congestion, sore throat and diarrhea.

Those symptoms are common to the flu and common cold.

The CDC recommends you call your doctor if you have those symptoms and have recently traveled from an area with widespread COVID-19 cases or came in contact with a person known to have COVID-19.

Total COVID-19 case map

Map is best viewed on desktop. Tap/click for bigger view from Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19 background

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease cause by a novel (new) coronavirus.

It was first detected in China and the virus was given the clinical name "SARS-CoV-2." The disease it causes was named "coronavirus disease 2019" which is abbreviated to "COVID-19."

According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and animals, including camels, cattle, cats and bats. COVID-19 came from bats.

This illustration in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP)

Early on, the outbreak in China was tied to people that had visited a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Later, new patients were found to not have a connection to the market indicating the virus was being transferred person-to-person.

The death rate varied from about 1 percent to 3.4 percent. That is much lower than 30 percent for Mers or 10 percent for Sars, but is still much higher than the .1 percent for the flu.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concernexternal icon” on January 30. The very next day, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency for the United States.

COVID-19 has separated into two strains, one which is more aggressive. The more aggressive strain accounts for about 70 percent of the cases according to Researchers at Peking University's School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai. It does appear to be possible for you to be infected with both strains.

How can you catch COVID-19?

The CDC said you can catch the disease by person-to-person contact or by coming into contact with an infected surface or object:

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How long before symptoms appear?

Symptoms can be mild to severe and can appear two to 14 days after exposure. That is why self-quarantines being ordered for those potentially exposed are two weeks.

According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild, about 14 percent are severe and around 6 percent are critical.

People above the age of 65 are at an increased risk along with those who have underlying medical issues or a compromised immune system.

How to get medical help

If you are experiencing the above symptoms and either traveled to an area where COVID-19 is widespread or came in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should contact your doctor immediately.

You can also call the Indiana State Department of Health Epidemiology Resource Center at 317-233-7125 [317-233-1325 after hours] or e-mail epiresource@isdh.in.gov.

You should not go to a hospital, emergency care, or other public place.

If you require medical help, your doctor or the ISDH with notify you where you can go.

For example, in the first case in Indiana, the individual was told to report to Community Hospital North. Once there, they were instructed to wait in the parking lot. Medical workers wearing infectious disease protective gear then went and got the patient, took them in through an entrance where no one else would be exposed and checked them in a special room designed for this sort of situation.

After being checked, the patient was sent back home to self-quarantine.

What does self-quarantine involve?

In most cases, a potential or confirmed exposure to COVID-19 will result in a 14-day self-quarantine.

That involves staying at home and avoiding public areas such as a school.

You would want to get friends or family to deliver food, medicine or other necessities and leave them on the doorstep for you to retrieve.

How to protect yourself from COVID-19

The CDC does not recommend healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

The CDC said you should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms to protect others from the risk of infection.

The number one thing you could do is keep your hand clean.

Here is a 2018 video by Riley Children's Health that shows proper hand washing and use of hand sanitizers.

You also should avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.

If you are trying to find hand sanitizer and finding it sold out, here is how you can make some of your own:

  • ⅔-cup rubbing alcohol (99 percent isopropyl alcohol)
  • ⅓-cup aloe vera gel
  • Stir and place in a clean soap dispenser

Because the solution must have an alcohol level above 60 percent to be effective, your solution needs to be at least two-thirds 99 percent isopropyl alcohol. If you add essential oils or other fragrances, you would need to increase the amount of isopropyl alcohol.

Are some people more at risk?

People of all ages have been infected with COVID-19 and there have even been reports of pets contracting the disease.

There are those more at risk to suffer severe symptoms of the virus:

  • Older adults (generally over the age of 65)
  • People who have severe chronic medical conditions (heart, lung or kidney disease)

What about women who are pregnant?

Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

There is no established data at this point that shows women who are pregnant would be at an increased risk.

According to the CDC, women who are pregnant should engage in usual preventive actions to avoid infection like washing hands often and avoiding people who are sick.

There is also no data yet on whether COVID-19 could have negative effects on a fetus.

Children, for the most part, have exhibited mild symptoms after being infected.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

(Source: Shutterstock, By Numstocker, Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1096095203)

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. However, there is a vaccine ready for a clinical trial.

The study, which is run out of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, seeks healthy adults between 18 and 55 years old. The participants can’t have certain health conditions, such as medical conditions that impact the immune system or be taking medications that affect the immune system.

The goal of the first phase of the study is to learn about the vaccine’s safety and see how the immune system responds to it.

If you are interested in participating in the study, fill out a survey.

What happens if someone is sick on your plane?

The CDC has given guidance to airline crews on how to respond if someone gets sick during a flight. That involved reporting travelers with specific symptoms to CDC.

Those symptoms include:​

  • fever (person feels warm to the touch, gives a history of feeling feverish, or has an actual measured temperature of 100.4°F [38° C] or higher) that has persisted for more than 48 hours


  • fever AND one of the following:
    • persistent cough
    • difficulty breathing
    • appears obviously unwell

Health care workers may then respond when the plane lands to handle the ill passenger.