UC Davis Health is committed to providing you with the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 symptoms. Learn more about symptoms of COVID-19 and which can be the first indicators of illness:

Novel coronavirus symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People with one or many of these symptoms in any combinations may have COVID-19:

  • fever or chills
  • dry coughs
  • shortness of breath associated with respiratory illness
  • muscle pain or body ache
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • nausea or vomiting

While typical of COVID-19, these all may be symptoms of some other illness, too. Call your primary care provider if you experience symptoms and believe you have been in close contact with a person known to have novel coronavirus.

The earliest symptoms of novel coronavirus will most likely be a fever, followed by a cough and muscle pain, according to a study conducted by the University of Southern California. Next, infected people will possibly experience nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. Initial COVID-19 symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses such as MERS and SARS. However, patients with COVID-19 will likely develop nausea and vomiting before diarrhea, which is opposite from MERS and SARS, the USC researchers said.

If someone is showing these symptoms, you should seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • trouble breathing
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • new confusion
  • inability to wake or stay awake
  • bluish lips or face

This is not a complete list of possibly symptoms. Call your primary care provider for any other symptoms that seem severe or are a concern to you.

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses and they have similar symptoms. It may be difficult to tell the difference based on symptoms alone, but there are two key differences, according to the CDC:

  • Those infected with COVID-19 sometimes experience change in or loss of taste and smell, which is not a symptom of the flu.
  • The USC researchers said the flu usually begins with a cough, whereas COVID-19 most often starts with a fever.
  • People infected with flu typically develop symptoms 1-4 days after infection. Those with COVID-19 typically develop symptoms 5 days after being infected. However, people infected with COVID-19 can show symptoms as early as 2 days or as late as 14 days after infection.

Learn about why doctors are worried as COVID-19 and flu season merge

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Fever and cough are the most common COVID-19 symptoms in children, according to the CDC. "The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in adults and children and can look like other common illnesses, like colds, strep throat, or allergies," the CDC reports. In addition to the COVID-19 symptoms listed above, children may also experience stomachache, poor appetite or poor feeding, especially for babies under 1 year old. In some children, fever may be the only sign of COVID-19 infection.

Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms in children

Parents should especially watch for the following novel coronavirus symptoms in children:

  • fever (temperature of 100.4°F or higher)
  • sore throat
  • new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty in breathing
  • diarrhea, vomiting or stomacheache
  • new severe headache, especially with fever

Novel coronavirus symptoms can last weeks or months for some people, known as "long haulers". These people have, in theory, recovered from the worst impacts of COVID-19 and have tested negative. However, they still have symptoms. There seems to be no consistent reason for the symptoms to stay aroundso long. This condition can effect anyone – old and young, otherwise healthy people and those battling other conditions. It has been seen in those who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and patients with very mild symptoms.

Learn more about COVID-19 long haulers

COVID-19 infection can cause inflammation and damage to the heart muscle and inflammation to the covering of the heart. According to the CDC, this heart damage can explain why some people have reported long-term symptoms like:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • heart palpitations

Those infected with COVID-19 can also experience lasting lung problems. Prolonged illness and persistent symptoms can occur even in young adults without chronic medical conditions, potentially leading to prolonged absence from work, studies, or other activities. Researchers are still investigating what other short- and long-term health effects are associated with COVID-19.