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Thursday, February 29, 2024

COVID or cold? The answer is in the order of symptoms

A new US study has revealed new information about the order in which COVID-19 symptoms appear – potentially making it easier to distinguish the deadly virus from the common cold or flu.

The study, published in Frontiers in Public Health journal by University of South California researchers, was based on symptoms data received from more than 55,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in China.

The researchers found that symptoms of the COVID-19 virus often appeared in the following order:

  1. Fever
  2. Cough
  3. Nausea and/or vomiting
  4. Diarrhea

Researchers say the order of symptoms differs only very slightly from other respiratory illnesses, but said there was one important clue that could help with the early detection of coronavirus by medical professionals.

“Our model predicts that influenza initiates with cough, whereas COVID-19 like other coronavirus-related diseases initiates with fever.”

Given that COVID-19 is known to be two to three times more contagious than influenza, early detection could be of great benefit to GPs worldwide.

“Our results support the notion that fever should be used to screen for entry into facilities as regions begin to reopen.”

The report suggested that clinicians should reorder the order of symptom occurrence in COVID-19 to improve rates of early detection and testing.

“COVID-19 is a pandemic viral disease with catastrophic global impact,” the report stated.

“This disease is more contagious than influenza such that cluster outbreaks occur frequently.

“If patients with symptoms quickly underwent testing and contact tracing, these outbreaks could be contained.”

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