The 21 symptoms of COVID-19 to watch out for

March 18, 2021

A year ago we knew little about the new viral disease that was sweeping the world, which quickly became known as COVID-19.

At first, it looked like the main symptoms of coronavirus infection were a high temperature and a persistent cough. But it soon became clear that there was more to COVID than cough and fever.

Thanks to the millions of daily health reports logged by 4+ million contributors to the ZOE COVID Symptom Study, we now know that there are more than 20 different symptoms of the disease.  

Of course, having one or more of these symptoms does not mean it’s definitely due to COVID-19, as they can also occur with other illnesses.  However, these symptoms have been reported more often by people who have a positive test than those testing negative.

Here’s a list of the symptoms we know about so far. Follow the links to find out more about what each symptom is like, how common it is, and what other symptoms you’re likely to experience alongside it:

1. High temperature (fever)

2. Chills or shivers

3. Persistent cough

4. Loss or change in smell (anosmia)

5. Loss or change in taste (dysgeusia)

6. Headache

7. Unusual tiredness (fatigue)

8. Sore throat

9. Sudden confusion (delirium), especially in older people

10. Skin rash

11. Changes in the mouth or tongue (COVID tongue)

12. Red and sore fingers or toes (COVID fingers/toes)

13. Shortness of breath 

14. Chest pains

15. Muscle pains

16. Hoarse voice

17. Diarrhoea

18. Skipping meals

19. Abdominal pains

20. Runny nose


21. Sneezing

If you’re newly ill it could be COVID-19, so get a test

Right now, you can only get an NHS test if you have any of the three core symptoms of cough, fever or loss or change in smell (anosmia). But data from the ZOE app shows that 31% of people who are ill with COVID-19 don’t have any of these three signs in the early stages of the disease.

This means that many people who are infected might not get tested and could still be spreading the virus to their loved ones and the wider community.

However, you can get a test through the ZOE COVID Symptom Study if you log any of the known symptoms in the app. 

We have shown that testing everybody experiencing any of seven key symptoms - cough, fever, loss of smell, fatigue, sore throat, headache or diarrhoea - would detect 96% of symptomatic coronavirus infections.

If you start feeling ill, especially with any of the seven symptoms listed above, it could be COVID-19. You should self-isolate, download the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, log your symptoms and get a test to help protect your community and bring the pandemic to an end.

Stay safe and keep logging.

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