Symptoms of Covid: Difference Between a Cold, Flu or Coronavirus and When to Isolate


As winter approaches and the kids are back to school, it’s common for colds, flu, and similar viral infections to circulate.But cold and flu symptoms can be broadly similar to those experienced by people who have contracted coronavirus and are at risk of spreading it.

So it can be difficult to determine which one you have.

It is important for people living in Merseyside and beyond to be alert to the symptoms of Covid-19 and understand the actions we or a member of our household should take, developing them.

So when should we be tested? When should we self-isolate?

And what are the main differences between the common cold, the flu, and the coronavirus?

NHS advice says it is essential that people who show symptoms of Covid-19, or who share a household with someone who has symptoms, should self-isolate with all members of their household:

  • Anyone with symptoms should be tested.
  • If the test is negative, self-isolation can end for anyone.
  • If the test is positive, you will receive further counseling.


The most common symptoms of a cold are a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, achiness, and sore throat. A mild cough may also be felt.

Find out the impact of the coronavirus on your area by entering your postal code below

NHS guidelines say cold symptoms develop gradually.


The flu most often consists of fever, fatigue, body aches, and a dry cough.

Diarrhea can sometimes occur, especially in children.

The NHS notes that there is usually a rapid onset of symptoms.


If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, get tested as soon as possible. Stay home until you get the result.

The main symptoms of the coronavirus are:

  • high temperature
  • a new cough continues
  • a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste

Unlike a mild cough you might have with a cold, a coronavirus cough means coughing heavily for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits or “episodes” in 24 hours.

High temperature is 37.8 ° C or more. A fever like this can occur when the body is fighting any infection – not just the coronavirus.

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Although fever is a key symptom of coronavirus, it can be the flu or another infection. A high temperature is unlikely with a cold.

If you have a fever, organize a coronavirus test – you can use the NHS 111 coronavirus service online.

A loss or change in smell or taste are key symptoms of the coronavirus and mean you should get tested.

You may have a simple cold. But you need to check, even if you don’t feel bad, to avoid the risk of the virus spreading.

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:

Get tested to check for coronavirus as soon as possible.

You and anyone you live with should stay home and only leave your home to take an exam.

Everyone in your support bubble should also stay home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or for 48 hours before they started.

You can book a coronavirus test here


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