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Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: How to Recognize First Symptoms

by | Mar 21, 2021 | Coronavirus | 0 comments

  1. Generality
  2. Signs and Symptoms
  3. Incubation Period Duration
  4. Possible Consequences
  5. How to Distinguish It from the Flu
  6. How It Is Identified
  7. What To Know

The source consulted for the writing of this article is the official website of the World Health Organization (WHO).


The new Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory virus responsible for the current COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. In some respects, the onset symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the most common respiratory tract infections, including the common cold and seasonal influenza: fever, cough, muscle pain, difficulty breathing, etc.

Indeed, Coronavirus is a large family of infectious agents that cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe conditions. Such as MERS and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Based on the epidemiological data available to date, it emerges that infection with Coronavirus 2019-nCoV can cause mild-moderate respiratory symptoms in most cases. Including runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever). Some patients who contract the new Coronavirus may develop pneumonia and/or require hospitalization in intensive care.

NCOV, SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19? Let us be clear.

  • This is the logo used to indicate the new Coronavirus, now called SARS-CoV-2 and already called 2019-nCoV. ‘New’ Coronavirus because the strain has never been identified in humans. The effects of the virus were first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 (from which nomenclature 2019-nCoV or the initial name “Coronavirus of Wuhan”).
  • SARS-Cov-2 is the new name given to the new Coronavirus by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) based on recommendations of a team of experts charged explicitly with studying the virus. In fact, these scientists have identified Coronavirus 2019-nCoV as closely related – to be sure, it is comparable to the “brother” – to what caused SARS or SARS-CoVs. In fact, SARS-CoV-2 stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.
  • COVID-19 is the respiratory syndrome caused by the new Coronavirus, where:
    • “CO” stands for the crown.
    • “VI” for -virus
    • “D” for disease (disease)
    • “19” means the year in which it first appeared.

Signs and Symptoms

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: what are the first symptoms of infection?

The most common symptoms of Coronavirus infection 2019-nCoV are:

  • Fever;
  • Dry cough;
  • Dyspnoea (breathlessness, shortness of breath);
  • Tiredness;
  • Muscle pain and tenderness (myalgia);
  • Feeling of general discomfort;
  • Runny nose and nasal congestion;
  • Sore throat.

Usually, a fever of over 37.5°C, which does not tend to go down despite the intake of antipyretic drugs, is the first warning sign. Then, in order of prevalence, the dry cough – described as “irritating,” insistent, and “free of phlegm” – and difficulty in breathing.

However, the symptoms frequently reported in the healing phase are loss of sense of smell (anosmia) and impaired perception of taste (dysgeusia).

Less frequent demonstrations

Less often, at the onset of the disease caused by the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) manifest:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders, including:
    • Diarrhea;
    • Nausea and/or vomiting;
    • Headache;
    • Easy fatigue;
    • Chills;
    • Arthralgia;
    • Coughing up blood;
    • Conjunctival congestion;
    • Confusion.

Incubation Period Duration

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: how long does the incubation period last?

The incubation period, that is, the time between contagion and clinical symptom development, is estimated to be between 2 and 11 days and a maximum of 14 days. COVID-19 patients generally develop symptoms on average 5-6 days after infection.

Compared to typical seasonal influenza, preceded by approximately 1-3 days of incubation, the period from exposure to Coronavirus 2019-nCoV to the onset of symptoms is longer. On the other hand, this means that it can be challenging to identify and monitor patients who have already contracted the virus but still show no infection signs.

Possible Consequences

Course of COVID-19

Most people affected by the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV heal.

Patients are discharged from hospital:

  • When symptoms disappear completely;
  • The temperature is within normal range and remains so for at least three days;
  • Tests for a viral agent (pharyngeal or nasopharyngeal swab) shall be negative at least twice after 24 hours.

Development of immunity

At the moment, it is premature to speak of persistent immunity. It is not impossible with absolute certainty that episodes of disease following the first can occur. In other words, the protective effect of the antibodies that developed after the exposure to Coronavirus 2019-nCoV may not last long-term, and people healed of the disease may again become infected.

There is, then, the unknown factor of possible mutations. Also, in this respect for the new Coronavirus, the observations are still ongoing. Nothing can be said for sure: the situation should be monitored. Any changes in the genome of the virus agent should be investigated and approach the most appropriate strategies to manage and resolve the problem.

What are the possible complications?

In severe cases, if Coronavirus 2019-nCoV infection can involve the low respiratory tract, severe pneumonia is possible. Currently, this is estimated to occur in about 15% of cases. Coronavirus 2019-nCoV pneumonia can lead to acute respiratory failure.

Sometimes, the infection can reach the kidneys, causing kidney failure.

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: how dangerous is it?

Like other respiratory diseases, Coronavirus 2019-nCoV infection can cause mild symptoms such as colds, sore throat, cough, and fever, or more severe symptoms such as pneumonia and difficulty breathing. Rarely, it can be fatal: according to the fatality rate – that is, the number of deaths from the total number of confirmed cases – it is estimated, at the moment and at an absolutely introductory level, at 2.3% at the global level (source: Situation report – February 2020, WHO; note: Almost all the deaths reported to date are recorded in Wuhan province, China). To put it in a nutshell, SARS is 9.6% fatal, and MERS is 34.4% deadly.

Who is most at risk of developing complications?

The most vulnerable to the manifestation of secondary complications of the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus infection are the elderly, immunosuppressed persons, and those with concomitant diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

How to Distinguish It from the Flu

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: what is the difference between the flu or common cold?

The symptoms of infection with Coronavirus 2019-nCoV are similar to those of the flu, cold, and flu-like syndromes circulating this season. Manifestations share between these conditions and New Coronavirus infection are mainly cough, fever, muscle aches, and breathing difficulties. For this reason, many false alarms are created before laboratory tests allow a specific diagnosis to be made.

Typically, the flu has a sudden onset with a fever above 38°C, at least one systemic symptom (fatigue, muscle pain), and a respiratory symptom (stuffy nose, runny, or cough).

How It Is Identified

Since flu, colds, and flu-like syndromes are caused by different viruses, if a new Coronavirus is suspected, it is necessary to carry out laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Positive or negative Coronavirus? Iter for the confirmation of the diagnosis

Diagnosis should be made in regional distributed reference laboratories on clinical respiratory samples by using real-time PCR for SARS-CoV-2 indicated by WHO (World Health Organization). In practice, traces of the genetic material of Coronavirus 2019-nCoV are researched after amplification. These tests are more sensitive than traditional tests and can also detect infections beyond traditional microbiological cultures.

What To Know

How is the new Coronavirus transmitted?

The Coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 respiratory disease can be transmitted from person to person by close contact with an infected case (being in the same closed environment, living in the same house, etc.). People who live or have traveled to areas contaminated with the new Coronavirus may be at risk of infection.

The primary infection modes are:

  • Exposure to breath-droplets from infected people, for example, when sick people sneeze, cough, or blow their nose;
  • Contact between the hands with objects and surfaces contaminated by infected secretions; the risk increases by touching contaminated hands (not yet washed), mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • For these reasons, to prevent infection with Coronavirus 2019-nCoV, the Ministry of Health calls for the following hygiene measures to be applied:
  • Sneezing or coughing in a tissue or with a loose elbow;
  • Dispose of handkerchiefs used in a sealed bin immediately after use:
    • Wash your hands often and accurately with soap and water for at least 40-60 seconds, especially:
    • After touching potentially dirty objects and surfaces;
    • Before you take them to your face, eyes, and mouth.

Suppose washing with soap and water is not feasible. In that case, a disinfectant for alcohol-based hands (alcohol concentration of at least 60%) can also be used.

In rare cases, contagion can occur through fecal contamination. At the moment, they are working to better understand how the virus is transmitted.

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