What are the differences between a cold, the flu and COVID-19?

Colds, flu, and the coronavirus - here's how you can tell the difference.




These tend to peak within two to three days and may last for up to 10 to 14 days 

Symptoms of a cold include: 

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Fever (Rare)


Here are some common symptoms of the flu:

  • A cough
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • A sore throat
  • A fever
  • A headache
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Body aches


Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 14 days of exposure, and include the following:

Common -

  • A low-grade fever (38°C or higher)
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath

Less common -

Some people may also experience:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Phlegm build-up
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache

Severe - These symptoms affect the whole body and could lead to severe health implications such as Pneumonia and Bacterial infections; this requires emergency medical attention)

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion or inability to stay awake
  • Blueish lips or face

If you or someone you know begin to display symptoms of COVID-19, it is strongly advised that you not go directly to the hospital or doctor's surgeries - phone ahead and notify staff of your concerns. To ensure the safety of those that will be present, provide them with the following details:

  • What your symptoms are
  • If you’ve travelled recently
  • If you’ve had any contact with people who have travelled recently
  • If you’ve had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19

Alternatively, contact national crisis line - 0861 322 322 or report a suspected case (24-Hour): 0800 029 999/WhatsApp: 0600 12 3456

Find more essential contact numbers to keep on hand during the lockdown.


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