What if I have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms?

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever
  • dry cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties
  • fatigue
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, e.g. loss of appetite, diarrhoea and abdominal pain
  • reduced or loss of sense of smell (anosmia) or taste – may be an early symptom.

Most people have mild symptoms; some people have no symptoms at all.

In more severe cases, signs and symptoms include:

  • pneumonia
  • severe breathing difficulties
  • kidney failure.

How long do symptoms of coronavirus take to appear?

Symptoms can appear anywhere between 2 days after being infected up to 2 weeks. Some people get sick very quickly, but, for most people with symptoms, they appear about 5 days after being infected.

If you have symptoms

Anyone with acute respiratory symptoms, that’s cough, runny nose, sore throat or cold or flu symptoms, can now get tested for COVID-19 and is encouraged to do so.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, ring your GP – don’t go straight there. Telehealth consultations by telephone or video (e.g. FaceTime, Skype or Zoom) are available to all Australians and in some cases may be bulk-billed through Medicare.

Testing is available at some general practices, pathology clinics and drive-through clinics. See your state or territory health department website for details of these clinics. This searchable list and map of COVID-19 testing locations may also help you locate a test centre. You may or may not need a booking or referral, depending on the particular test centre. Testing is generally free for Medicare card holders.

Tell the doctor or clinic your situation – your symptoms, any contact with known cases and travel history. States and territories are publishing details of flights that have been identified as having had confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board.

You can also ring the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice.

Telephone: 1800 020 080

The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you need translation or interpreting services, call 131 450

If you need to travel for testing, wear a mask (if you have one) to protect others, stay at least 1.5 metres from other people, and cover your coughs and sneezes.

Coronavirus symptom risk calculator

myDr.com.au has a Coronavirus Risk Calculator to assess your symptoms and risk of having coronavirus.


Author: myDr


1. Australian Government Department of Health. Coronavirus (COVID-19). https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov
2. Johns Hopkins University. Coronavirus symptoms start about five days after exposure, Johns Hopkins study finds. https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/03/09/coronavirus-incubation-period/
3. World Health Organization. Coronavirus. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus 4. Wong SH, Sung JJ. Covid-19 and the digestive system. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Mar 25. doi: 10.1111/jgh.15047. [Epub ahead of print]


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