Coronavirus symptoms: What is the incubation period of COVID-19?

Under the Government’s social distancing measures, everyone has been advised to stay at home. During the coronavirus outbreak, many people will also need to self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus, either if they have symptoms or have come into contact with someone who has symptoms.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must stay at home and not visit a GP, pharmacy or hospital.

According to the NHS website, the symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)


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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) common symptoms of coronavirus include fever, tiredness and a dry cough.

But other symptoms can also include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Aches and pains
  • Sore throat

Very few people will also report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.

What is the incubation period of coronavirus?

The term ‘incubation period’ refers to the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease.

The WHO website reads: “Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.

“These estimates will be updated as more data become available.”


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What should I do if I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, the NHS recommends you use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

You should only call NHS 111 if you cannot get help online.

It is advised you call 111 if you cannot handle your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or if your symptoms do not get better after seven days.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate at home for at least seven days, even if symptoms are mild.

If after seven days you still have a high temperature, you should continue to self-isolate until your temperature returns to normal.

If you just have a cough after seven days, the NHS notes you no longer need to self-isolate as a cough can last for several weeks after the infection has passed.

For people who have come into contact with or live with someone who has symptoms, they must also self-isolate for 14 days from the first day the first person in the household showed symptoms.

This is essential because the incubation period for coronavirus can last for up to 14 days.

Even though a person may not be initially displaying symptoms, they could still develop symptoms during this period.

If you get symptoms, you should self-isolate for seven days from when your symptoms start – even if it means you’re self-isolating for longer than 14 days.

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