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. The symptoms most commonly found with of COVID-19 infection include:
- Cough or worsening of chronic cough
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
Sometimes people with COVID-19 have mild illness, but their symptoms may suddenly worsen in a few days. Some less common symptoms include stuffy nose, conjunctivitis (pink eye) dizziness, confusion, abdominal pain, skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes. Children have similar symptoms to adults, but are less likely to have fever, shortness of breath or cough. COVID-19 causes mild illness in the majority of cases in children. Anyone with symptoms, even if they are mild, can get tested.
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 so you don’t potentially spread COVID-19 to others. To learn more about self-isolation, who should self-isolate and ending self-isolation, see Self-Isolation and COVID-19.
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. Anyone with symptoms, even if they are mild, can get tested for COVID-19. 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.
While anyone can get tested, some symptoms can also be signs of other medical issues and you may need to seek medical care. If you are unsure whether to seek care or get tested, contact your health care provider or call 8-1-1. If you or someone in your care is having severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, having a hard time waking up, feeling confused or losing consciousness, you should seek emergency medical care by calling 9-1-1 or going to your nearest emergency department.
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 your 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: July 9, 2020
The information provided above has been adapted from the BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 resources, accessed July 9, 2020, and the Public Health Agency of Canada PHAC: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Symptoms and treatment accessed April 21 2020.