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What are the symptoms of COVID-19, and how serious is the disease?

Symptoms develop between 2 and 12 days from the time of exposure, where the majority develop symptoms after 5-7 days. 

Typical symptoms at the start and in cases of mild illness resemble common symptoms of the flu and other upper respiratory tract infections, with sore throat, malaise, muscle pain, dry cough and fever. In many cases, you can't tell mild symptoms of COVID-19 apart from a common cold or flu, which are caused by other viruses. You generally won't need medical attention with these symptoms. 

Some people develop more severe illness, where after 4-7 days  they experience a worsening of their cough, increasing fever and difficulty breathing. Some develop pneumonia, which can be so severe that they are in need of hospital admission.

The length of time with symptoms varies. Amongst those with mild illness, the symptoms will typically go away within 4-6 days, while those with severe illness can be affected for several weeks.  

The knowledge we have shows that the vast majority that are infected with novel coronavirus only develop mild symptoms, while a minority become so ill that they require hospital admission.

In the case of the outbreak in China we saw that 80% developed mild symptoms, approximately 15% had a need for hospital admission and 5% became severely ill and required treatment in an intensive care unit. Based on current knowledge, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 0,3% and 1% of those infected will die from COVID-19. 

The vast majority of serious cases are seen in the elderly, especially those over 80 years old, and in people with chronic disease and in a weakened state. You can read more about risk groups further down, as well as our recommendations if you are at risk. 

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