Fever? Cough? Runny nose? How to know if you need a COVID test

Cough and fever confirmed as the most prevalent symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Doctor or nurse wearing PPE, N95 mask, face shield and personal protective gown standing beside the car/road screening for Covid-19 virus

Have you had a cough or a runny nose this winter? How can you tell if it is just a common cold or COVID-19?

It isn’t easy to tell the difference, which is why the current advice is for anyone displaying cold or flu-like symptoms to undergo a test.

That said, a recent review of the scientific literature of COVID-19 cases around the world has confirmed the most prevalent symptoms associated with the disease.

Unsurprisingly, a persistent cough and a fever were the two most common COVID symptoms.

Other major symptoms include fatigue, losing the ability to smell and difficulty breathing.

The study ratifies the list of symptoms listed by the World Health Organisation at the start of the pandemic.

Researchers from five universities combined data from 148 separate studies to identify the common symptoms experienced by more than 24,000 patients from nine countries, including the UK, China and the US.

The study is one of the biggest reviews yet conducted into COVID-19 symptoms.

The researchers also acknowledge that there is likely to be a large proportion of people who had the virus but did not display symptoms.

Of the 24,410 cases, the study found:

- 78 per cent had a fever, although this tended to vary across countries, with 72 per cent of fever reported by patients in Singapore and 32 per cent in South Korea.
- 57 per cent reported a cough. Again, this varied across countries, with 76 per cent of patients reporting a cough in the Netherlands compared to 18 per cent in South Korea.
- 31 per cent said they had suffered fatigue.
- 25 per cent lost the ability to smell.
- 23 per cent reported difficulty breathing.

The researchers believe the variation in the prevalence of symptoms between countries is due, in part, to the way data was collected.

Of those patients who needed hospital treatment, 17 per cent needed non-invasive help with their breathing; 19 per cent had to be looked after in an intensive care unit, 9 per cent required invasive ventilation and 2 per cent needed extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation, an artificial lung. 

Dr Ryckie Wade from the University of Leeds said the study’s confirmation of symptoms was very important in terms of shutting down the spread of the virus.

"This analysis confirms that a cough and fever were the most common symptoms in people who tested positive with COVID-19," Dr Wade said. "This is important because it ensures that people who are symptomatic can be quarantined, so they are not infecting others.

"The study gives confidence to the fact that we have been right in identifying the main symptoms and it can help determine who should get tested."

Have you had a coronavirus test? Do you know people with cold and flu symptoms who refuse to get tested?

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    COMMENTS

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    Rosret
    26th Jun 2020
    3:41pm
    Just watching the news and hearing a proportion of people in Hot Spots and Hotel quarantine refusing the test.
    I'd be cancelling all their government assistance, send them a bill for the hotel stay and making sure they know they will go to jail should they be later found to have COVID and responsible for its spread.
    Eddy
    26th Jun 2020
    3:59pm
    That sounds a tad totalitarian for me Rosret. However if I ruled the world I would outlaw chewing gum and smoking in public places so I am no less dictatorial than yourself.
    Paddington
    26th Jun 2020
    4:17pm
    Rosret, you are correct. That is not going too far at all. The test implies a reward that their costs will be covered. If people knowingly wander and visit resulting in death then it is definitely culpable behaviour.
    All those areas are not Muslim at all Robie, that is going too far and causing disharmony. They are a variety of reasons and using one form of celebration as a cause for all those outbreaks is just wrong and stirs up hatred.
    Our next door neighbours are definitely not Muslim and have flouted the rules from the outstart even when restrictions were tight. They are teachers which doesn’t mean all teachers have caused the outbreaks.
    People who have no regard for rules come from all types and ages. Even some on here have boasted a disregard for the strict rules.
    People have taken risks and been lucky so ones avoiding the virus but deciding they can do what they like whenever they like are also guilty.
    People power is needed to influence others to lie low again for a while.
    Paddington
    26th Jun 2020
    7:07pm
    Read the whole article Robie, and I notice you are back insulting people. They are still a minority and there are far more others than Muslims. Also, they come from different places and their religion is as diverse as Christianity.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/25/reports-melbourne-coronavirus-cluster-originated-at-eid-party-could-stoke-islamophobia-say-muslim-leaders
    Kaz
    26th Jun 2020
    8:39pm
    Who are you robie? Actually, I don’t want to know.
    Your comments are disrespectful and at the very least, uninformed and raving! Probably time to rest.
    Laura52
    27th Jun 2020
    6:31am
    I did the test as I am a front line worker and care for elderly parents in May. There is increasing evidence of asymptomatic transmission and community transmission from what is being reveale in Victoria. I live in the hot spot area and yes I am very concerned. I do think utilising medical corps from the army is a very good idea. I am following the simple rules, hygiene, social distancing which I am increasing to 2 M ( the virus can be transmitted in aerosol form), avoid crowds and shopping centres, shop very early , wear a mask only for shopping for and work staying home and if I am sick, do a test and do my civic duty in what is needed from me by the government. Once the numbers are down to 1-2 a day, I will venture out more. I hope it becomes like WA, Tas, ACT, NT, NZ where I live....but the disease will be around, will circulate and will re emerge. This one will be a difficult one to eliminate/eradicate until...or if or when a vaccine comes along.
    Rosret
    27th Jun 2020
    7:37am
    Eddy it would be nice if people were just civil minded and did the right thing. I can't imagine why anyone would refuse such a simple request.
    As for being totalitarian - we live in a society of rules to be obeyed whether it be a democracy or a dictatorship. I would think one simple request to save thousands of lives comes under the heading of requiring "a rule".
    People are all to happy to receive the gifts from the tax payer. Free hotel quarantine, job seeker, job keeper etc etc. School children must be vaccinated or the parents lose child welfare benefits. How is this any different? Its not even a vaccination. Just a cotton bud up the nose.
    Selfish, irresponsible people - what political party affiliation does that come under - none.
    KSS
    27th Jun 2020
    6:42pm
    You may not like the truth, but at least 14 of the cases in one area are from a single extended family who all got together to celebrate EID, the end of Ramadan. And this family is not in a single suburb either.

    The point is, it's not about Ramadan or any other religious festival of any type. It's the fact that obviously social distancing is not being observed under those circumstances. And then having been infected continuing to spread it to other people because the hugging and kissing greetings of other family members and friends continues on.

    As for the returned Australians refusing to undergo testing, it should be mandatory both on entry to quarantine and before being allowed to leave. 30% refusals in Victoria with no penalty is ridiculous especially as even in NSW the vast majority of cases have been in returnees and still are almost entirely. NSW is now introducing a further 10 days quarantine for those refusing testing making 24 days isolation from Monday. Those refusing testing mainly fear having to be in isolation further if they test positive. No test, then 14 days and they are gone! Not any more from Monday!
    Laura52
    27th Jun 2020
    6:50pm
    I agree with everything KSS stated. I am in the hot spot and I still see friends hug, kiss, and rarely social distancing at so many places...hence I do my social distancing dance. People still think the virus is not serious at all. I believe mandatory testing should also be performed twice a week after 14 days...the footballers do testing 2 twice a week, why can't returned travelers after quarantine, just to be sure!
    Hoohoo
    30th Jun 2020
    2:37pm
    If only people realised they are making it worse for themselves and everyone, by not observing the rules. People who flout the rules because they believe their personal freedom is most important, suggests an immature mind that has never learned about delayed gratification. So yes, some young people and those who think they're still young are a big problem.

    However, my family broke some rules when a non-elderly family member died very recently. We hugged around the death bed. Perhaps we would've been more careful if we lived in a city or hot spot, but we live in regional town where there hasn't been a case since early April. But given the emotions, we did what was human and didn't think or remember the rules at the time.

    I would hope all religious leaders have told their congregations about respecting the rules, and in the case of the end of Ramadan, when all Muslim families gather together to celebrate (like Christians do at Christmas), they should have been told directly not to hug or kiss people who don't live with them.

    You're correct about the rules needing to be adhered to Rosret and KSS, but I don't like the angle you're both aiming your arrows, as if only people on welfare or Muslims are the main problem. No doubt some of these groups ARE part of the problem in Victoria, but it was the rich folks in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, regular overseas travellers, who were the main hot spot in NSW (besides the nursing home and Ruby Princess) at the beginning of the pandemic. Many of them went out shopping before they self-isolated, causing the hot spot to spike.
    Arvo
    26th Jun 2020
    4:03pm
    You mention " runny nose" in your headline as an associate of Covid-19 yet you don't expand further information on this symptom...So is it a cold or Covid-19?
    Paddington
    26th Jun 2020
    4:21pm
    It is likely a cold but you must check it out. Our son had the virus and he was very tired mainly. He had chest pain as well. It took him a month or more to be able to function normally. He did have what seemed like a cold too. He stayed home for months with it. Motivation was very low for a long time. It knocks you.
    KSS
    27th Jun 2020
    6:43pm
    Without testing, there is no way of knowing Arvo which is why we are advised if there are any symptoms at all however mild, get tested. It is FREE.
    Incognito
    26th Jun 2020
    4:53pm
    No to both questions. I disagree with Rosret taking Government assistance away does not achieve anything if they have got no money to pay rent and buy food then they will more likely be out on the streets mixing with people and why always pick on the most vulnerable.
    One of the main causes of getting sick from the virus and any virus for that matter is low Vitamin D, and we need supplements more during winter. Vitamin C is also important and if you are not eating enough fruit or raw veggies you need to supplement also. Zinc can also play a big part so getting a Vitamin D,C and zinc combination will drastically improve your health as long as you eat wholefoods and not processed dead food.
    Laura52
    27th Jun 2020
    6:32am
    Do you have scientific based evidence to support this? I would like to peer review it and analyse it ( have a science and medical background).
    Rosret
    27th Jun 2020
    7:47am
    Laura52 you are quite correct. There is no doubt being outside in the sunshine, staying healthy and getting exercise helps all and improves the immune system but does not stop a virus.
    There has to be a reason why the elderly are so vulnerable to COVID and no doubt in due course we will find out why.
    Rosret
    27th Jun 2020
    7:54am
    Do you really think they would give up their home instead of having a cotton bud up the nose?
    What would be their excuse, "anti-nose tester' they may find out there's no brain in there and it does straight out the ear.
    Incognito
    27th Jun 2020
    4:41pm
    I did not say it stops a virus, I said to lesson your chances of getting sick from it you need to make sure your Vitamin D, C and Zinc levels are adequate, get tested for your levels if you need to and it can give you a fighting chance. I have read some articles about the data about how those with low Vitamin D are more susceptible to getting sick from Covid. If you look up peer reviews on Vitamin D and how important it is you will see how it can improve immunity.
    KSS
    27th Jun 2020
    6:46pm
    Please Incognito, provide the peer reviewed studies that show Vitamin C, D and zinc are effective at either preventing infection or mitigating the effects of COVID-19. I am certain the rest of the medical profession would be as eager to see it as Laura52 and I will be.
    Incognito
    27th Jun 2020
    6:54pm
    Read my post again, I said I read some articles, Celia posted one here:

    https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/the_meeting_place/post/virus-from-china?page=54

    The rest of the medical profession do not want to know about nutrition, we already know that.
    Laura52
    27th Jun 2020
    7:05pm
    Yes, eating fresh food rich in vitamin C, D and Zinc, going out in the fresh air and exercise can certainly keep one healthy and help the immune system to stay in check, no doubt about that. Regarding Vitamin D and immunity and the many other miraculous things it is meant to do ( apart from the scientific evidence that it is involved in the the absorption of Calcium into the intestine), from my reading, the jury is out on that one. If it is meant to help with immunity, there wouldn't be a myriad of autoimmune disorders and people wouldn't have as many colds or flus or other bacterial/viral infections . In fact, I take 3 vitamin D capsules for my parathyroid disorder, eat plenty of raw, fresh fruit and veggies, foods high in zinc, all wholefoods ( my stomach can't handle processed food) exercise for an hour 5 days a week but I have succumbed to colds and chest infections ( a bad infection just recently in March). Genes also play a big part in how one deals with an infection especially in the production of the neutralising antibodies and t cells against a virus, especially the corona virus as some people , some from young to old, can have mild to severe symptoms.
    Incognito
    27th Jun 2020
    7:24pm
    I personally prefer a higher does of Vitamin D in spray form, capsules just often go through the digestion and do not get absorbed from what I have read plus it needs to be high enough. Sorry to hear you still get colds and chest infections, I never get them, but I used to get glandular fever for years until I gave up dairy. I do think diet (and stress) plays a big part I personally don't believe in the gene theory myself but I guess maybe you can inherit stronger immune systems but does not mean you cannot make them stronger if you haven't.
    Laura52
    28th Jun 2020
    8:25am
    Thanks Incognito. I am just wondering are you a dietician and do you read scientific research/journals presented by dietitians? Also high doses of vitamin D can lead to issues of calcium imbalance in the body, hypercalcaemia. Also,being a pharmacist/pharmacologist there is no evidence that spray form or capsules are not better than one or the other, unless one has intestinal gut malabsorption issues or short gut syndrome. My vitamin D levels are top notch from taking capsules , as my body needs more due to a parathyroid condition. I do agree that stress plays a big part in affecting the immune system due to the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands, which can increase the level of cytokines in the body, leading to inflammation. I only eat whole foods, nothing from packets, cans, all my meals are made from scratch in my diet. Everyone has a different metabolism, genetic makeup and everyone responds differently to food, including twins ( individual bioavailability).
    Laura52
    28th Jun 2020
    8:37am
    I read the article posted by Celia...I wouldn't trust anything from the daily telegraph and the comments just jumped out at me:

    a) Indonesian researchers analysed hospital records of 780 people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-1

    . too small of a sample size for a study, cause does not necessarily relate to an effect

    b). Researchers warned the study was not definitive, however, because the patients with high vitamin D levels were healthier and younger.

    This to me is flawed...all sections of the community/population need to be looked at.

    c).All five researchers, led by Prabowo Raharusuna, were listed as 'independent'. No details of their scientific backgrounds were provided in the paper.

    d). The research — published in April — has yet to be peer-reviewed by fellow scientists, a process that often uncovers flaws in studies.

    I am sorry, in my professional opinion, not enough studies in the short time frame since the disease eventuated have been conducted that prove the hypothesis that the Covid-19 death rate is affected by the level of Vitamin D. More long term studies with a bigger population size of differing age groups, random trials need to be conducted.
    Incognito
    28th Jun 2020
    1:34pm
    Still it does not hurt to include Vitamin D supplements does it? And there will likely be no long term study because it does not help Big Pharma does it? No money in it for them.
    Incognito
    28th Jun 2020
    7:31pm
    Laura in this article it talks about how Vitamin D regulates more than 200 genes:

    https://www.sunnybrookhealthstore.com.au/blog/blog/natural-health/vitamin-d-and-the-immune-system

    Many of those in aged care do not get sufficient Vitamin D and I think they should be testing them for their nutrient levels IMO.
    KSS
    29th Jun 2020
    10:27am
    So nothing to do with COVID-19 then just motherhood statements about food as medicine for a healthy immune system Incognito. This is exactly how fake news is propagated.

    No amount of vitamin D, C or zinc will protect against COVID-19 or any other virus infection per se and it is dangerous to suggest or imply otherwise.
    Incognito
    29th Jun 2020
    6:48pm
    There you go again reading things into my comments, I never said it would protect you! I said proper nutrition with adequate vitamins and minerals can lesson your chances of getting it and/or succumbing to it and getting very sick.
    I am only trying to help people, so don't accuse me of spreading fake news.
    Ok
    26th Jun 2020
    5:48pm
    I fail to understand why Australia still lets people into the country from virus devastated countries. many countries will not allow its citizen to return unless they are tourists. If people have a residence or a job in another country, they should remain until its all over. Generous luxury hotel accommodation is all free and then there are massive welfare benefits. I fail to understand why they lift all the restrictions so rapidly. It is like someone on a parachute is seeing the ground will take the parachute off.
    Incognito
    26th Jun 2020
    5:59pm
    Trouble is the many that are returning from jobs overseas no longer have the jobs and are out of work with no welfare, how would you feel if it was you, they just need to do testing at the airport and quarantine straight away.
    Incognito
    26th Jun 2020
    7:44pm
    Update, they are now going to test overseas arrivals before and after quarantine.
    Rosret
    27th Jun 2020
    7:40am
    That is good news Incognito. I can't believe it wasn't compulsory in the first place.
    Incognito
    27th Jun 2020
    4:42pm
    Yes Rosret imagine if they had done it back in January. I heard that the inquiry into the Ruby Princess debacle mentioned that they were not prepared and had no means of testing so simply let them off the boat, still no excuse.
    Thoughtful
    27th Jun 2020
    7:47pm
    For Laura52 and KSS.
    https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/do-vitamin-d-levels-affect-risk-of-infection-and-s
    Have read this article with interest. Certainly not what could be called evidence but worth reading none-the-less.
    Incognito
    27th Jun 2020
    7:56pm
    Thanks Thoughtful, good article, great to here they are looking at it anyway, despite Dr Morgan's pessimistic view while more people could die from covid waiting for his supposed trials. It does not hurt to take Vitamin d, I prefer 1000 iu, but only take it on days I don't get enough sun exposure. People are being told to slap sunscreen on all the time so often in summer they do not get enough exposure too.
    Incognito
    28th Jun 2020
    7:29pm
    Here is another really good article about Vitamin D

    https://www.sunnybrookhealthstore.com.au/blog/blog/natural-health/vitamin-d-and-the-immune-system
    BillF2
    30th Jun 2020
    1:30pm
    Dear Incognito,
    looking at the comments in response to your postings, I know what it is like to bash your head against a brick wall. As the old saying goes "there's none so blind as those who do not want to see". Just to add a little more power to your elbow, take a look at the video on the this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V9Kyc2wUOs
    Roy R
    2nd Jul 2020
    12:46pm
    Watching, reading and listening to the news has, I think, been totally uninformative. You cannot trust a journalist. Like politicians, they get it wrong too often. I mean, look at NSW and Queensland. NSW will quarantine Victorians from the 'hot spots' the silly bitch in Banania wants to quarantine ALL Victorians AND make them pay for a hotel that the government selects and 'makes' them stay in. Various governments act differently in response to different situations, this is wrong (in my opinion). There should be a unified approach to this pandemic and it should be run nationally, not the states. You also need to take into account the amount of testing done when making headlines about new cases. This is not done so I consider it all bullshit. I will continue to maintain my distances, wear a mask and keep my hand clean until a vaccine is available and proven to be effective.


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