Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses including the flu and common cold. Symptoms may vary from person to person. Some people may experience mild symptoms, while others have more severe symptoms. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat and painful swallowing
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Loss of sense of smell
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
Sometimes people with COVID-19 have mild illness, but their symptoms may suddenly worsen in a few days. People infected with COVID-19 may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting a few days after the onset of the above symptoms. If you only have gastrointestinal symptoms you may not have COVID-19.
To learn more about symptoms of COVID-19, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control's Symptoms page.
If you have symptoms
If you have symptoms you need to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days so you don’t potentially spread COVID-19 to others. To learn more about what to do if you are sick, how to prevent spreading it and what to do if you need medical care, visit: the BC Centre for Disease Control's If you are sick page.
Some of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 are common to other conditions. For more information on what you can do if you have symptoms, see:
- Fever or Chills, Age 11 & Younger
- Fever or Chills, Age 12 and Older
- Respiratory Problems, Age 11 and Younger
- Respiratory Problems, Age 12 and Older
You can manage many of the symptoms that are common with COVID-19 at home. Drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest and use a humidifier or hot shower to ease a cough or sore throat.
Use the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool to help you determine whether you may need further assessment or testing. You may be able to get tested if you are experiencing symptoms that might be due to COVID-19. If you have a cold, influenza or COVID-19 like symptoms you can now be assessed for and get a COVID-19 test. Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Testing page to find a COVID-19 collection centre (locations where you can be tested) near you.
Contact your family doctor or nurse practitioner if are a concerned about your health and COVID-19. If you have general health questions or concerns, contact HealthLinkBC (8-1-1) at any time, day or night. If it becomes harder to breathe, you can’t drink anything or feel much worse seek urgent medical care at an urgent and primary care centre or emergency department. If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing or severe bleeding, call 9-1-1 or local emergency number immediately.
If you are a priority population
Most people recover from coronaviruses on their own. However, some people may have a higher chance of developing a more severe illness or complications due to other health conditions. These are called priority populations and specific precautions and treatment may be needed to keep these people safe.
Find more information about priority (and vulnerable) populations:
- BC Centre for Disease Control: Priority populations
- Public Health Agency of Canada: Vulnerable populations and COVID-19 (PDF 335KB)
- Public Health Agency of Canada; People who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19
If you are pregnant
Pregnancy does not increase the risk of getting COVID-19. Pregnant women should follow the same self-isolation guidelines as everyone in the community. If you become ill during your pregnancy, you should speak with your health care provider and be tested for COVID-19.
Learn more about pregnancy and COVID-19 from:
- BC Centre for Disease Control: COVID-19 and pregnancy
- BC Women’s Hospital, COVID-19 Information for Patients (Common Questions)
- Government of Canada: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pregnancy, Childbirth and Caring for Newborns: Advice for Mothers (PDF 355KB)
Common questions about COVID-19
Find more information about symptoms and other common questions about COVID-19, see:
- BC Centre for Disease Control: Common questions about COVID-19
- Public Health Agency of Canada: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Symptoms and treatment
Find more information about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself, your family and your community, see Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Last updated: April 26, 2020
The information provided above has been adapted from the BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 resources, accessed April 16, 2020, and the Public Health Agency of Canada PHAC: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Symptoms and treatment accessed April 21 2020.