What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called
SARS-CoV-2. WHO first learned of this new virus on 31
December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of
'viral pneumonia' in Wuhan, People's Republic of China.
What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory
illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.
COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus
(called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with
COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes
more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take
longer before people show symptoms and people can be
contagious for longer. More information about differences
between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are
similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them
based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help
confirm a diagnosis.
While more is learned every day about COVID-19 and the virus
that causes it, there is still a lot that is unknown . This
page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available
information to date.
Seasonal influenza comes on
suddenly and typically causes several symptoms:
COVID-19 symptoms may
appear one to 14 days after initial exposure. They most
Shortness of breath
Some patients experience
Runny or stuffy nose
Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some
Symptoms of severe COVID-19 disease include:
Other less common symptoms are:
More severe and rare neurological complications such as
strokes, brain inflammation, delirium and nerve damage.
People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough
associated with difficulty breathing or shortness of breath,
chest pain or pressure, or loss of speech or movement should
seek medical care immediately. If possible, call your health
care provider, hotline or health facility first, so you can
be directed to the right clinic.
What happens to people who get COVID-19?
Among those who develop symptoms, most (about 80%) recover
from the disease without needing hospital treatment. About
15% become seriously ill and require oxygen and 5% become
critically ill and need intensive care.
Complications leading to death may include respiratory
failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis
and septic shock, thromboembolism, and/or multiorgan
failure, including injury of the heart, liver or kidneys.
In rare situations, children can develop a severe
inflammatory syndrome a few weeks after infection.
Who is most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19?
People aged 60 years and over, and those with underlying
medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung
problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, are at higher risk of
developing serious illness.
However, anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become
seriously ill or die at any age.