Reported illnesses have ranged from people with mild symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
COVID-19 typically causes flu-like symptoms including a fever and cough.
In some patients – particularly the elderly and others with other chronic health conditions – these symptoms can develop into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.
After a week, it can lead to shortness of breath, with about 20% of patients requiring hospital treatment.
Notably, the COVID-19 infection rarely seems to cause a runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat (these symptoms have been observed in only about 5% of patients). Sore throat, sneezing, and stuffy nose are most often signs of a cold.
80% of cases are mild
Based on all 72,314 cases of COVID-19 confirmed, suspected, and asymptomatic cases in China as of February 11, a paper by the Chinese CCDC released on February 17 and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology has found that:
- 80.9% of infections are mild (with flu-like symptoms) and can recover at home.
- 13.8% are severe, developing severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath.
- 4.7% as critical and can include: respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure.
- in about 2% of reported cases the virus is fatal.
- Risk of death increases the older you are.
- Relatively few cases are seen among children.
See also: Death Rates by Existing Conditions
Pre-existing illnesses that put patients at higher risk:
- cardiovascular disease
- chronic respiratory disease
That said, some otherwise healthy people do seem to develop a severe form of pneumonia after being infected by the virus. The reason for this is being investigated as we try to learn more about this new virus.