Coronavirus

Coronavirus symptom checker: Covid-19 advice in the USA and UK

The CDC in the USA and the NHS in England are offering online services to check your symptoms if you are worried you might have coronavirus.

Coronavirus symptom checker: Covid-19 advice in the USA and UK
LUIS ACOSTA AFP

If you are worried you or a loved one might be suffering from Covid-19 the online coronavirus symptom checkers being offered by the CDC in the USA and the NHS in England are a good first port of call.

USA online coronavirus symptom checker

In the United States of America, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention offer an online advice centre for Covid-19, including an online coronavirus symptom checker.

According to the CDC, coronavirus symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (it bases this on the incubation of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome virus, another member of the coronavirus family that can infect humans).

The coronavirus symptoms are:

- Fever

- Cough

- Shortness of breath

Seek medical attention

The CDC advises that medical attention is immediately sought if you have:

- Trouble breathing

- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

- Confusion that has just started, or inability to arouse

- Bluish lips or face

The list is noted to not be inclusive and where there are other severe or concerning symptoms you should consult your medical provider.

NHS England online coronavirus symptom checker

The NHS in England uses a coronavirus symptom checker questionnaire to help you decide what you should do if you think you might have Covid-19. (Note the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own services). To use the service you are required to enter a valid postcode in England, though this is not checked against the location of your computer or smartphone.

The first thing the symptom checker notes is that you should directly call the coronavirus help line on 111 if you calling about a child under five-years-old.

After asking for your sex and age the checker overs a direct option to “Get help if you’re worried about coronavirus”.

Main coronavirus symptoms

The main questions the symptom checker asks about are:

Temperature: whether you feel hot to touch on your chest or back

Cough: whether you have a new continuous cough

According to the service, if you have neither a high temperature or a cough you are unlikely to have coronavirus.

If however you have either a temperature or a cough the NHS direction is clear. “You need to stay away from other people”, because the symptoms suggest you could have a coronavirus infection.

Coronavirus: other symptoms

The symptom checker then takes the patient through a series of more detailed questions, offering various different outcomes.

If you are extremely breathless, unable to speak more than a few words, or your breathing is harder or faster than usual and getting worse you should call an ambulance (999 in the UK) straight away.

Where that is not the case the symptom checker asks a further series of questions, covering

- daily activities (whether you have stopped doing what you usually do or not, and how you feel)

- whether you suffer from any confusion

- whether you have been told that getting an infection might be very serious, or

- whether you have been told to isolate yourself for the next 12 weeks.

In any of these cases the advice will be to call a nurse on the coronavirus line (111).

Where the symptoms suggest coronavirus, but the symptoms are not serious or there is no underlying issue the advice will likely be for the patient and the people they live with to self-isolate.

Please note this summary does not cover all eventualities covered by the symptom checker and if you are in any doubt whatsoever about your condition you should contact your medical provider.

The NHS also offers general advice for everyone, including advice on staying at home to prevent coronavirus spreading; how to stop the infection spreading; and how to look after your general health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Comparing coronavirus, cold and flu

In general, the main Covid-19 symptoms are fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Some people infected with the virus will also suffer aches and pains, nasal congestion, excess mucus, sore throat and diarrhoea. Another noted symptom has been loss of the sense of taste and smell.

In the majority of cases the symptoms are mild and progressively disappear. Some people have asymptomatic infections and will be infected with the virus without even knowing it. Where the patient has difficulty breathing or serious respiratory problems it is vital to get in touch with local emergency services and seek medical attention.

Differences between coronavirus, the cold and flu

Symptoms Covid-19 Cold Flu
Fever Common Infrequent Common
Tiredness Occasional Occasional Common
Cough Common (dry cough) Mild Common (dry cough)
Sneezing No Common No
Muscle pain Occasional Common Common
Runny nose Unusual Common Occasional
Sore throat Occasional Common Occasional
Diarrhoea Uncommon No Occasional (children)
Headaches Occasional Uncommon Common
Difficulty breathing Occasional No No

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