With the COVID-19 pandemic having taken an increasing hold in Thailand, it now more important than ever that we understand and recognise the symptoms early to stop the further spread of this highly contagious virus. As many of the symptoms are often misunderstood or assumed to be related to the common flu virus, if you recognise that you have one or more symptoms, it is sensible to self-isolate and takes a COVID-19 test at one of the local hospitals. Unfortunately, a positive result will mean that you have an enforced stay in a local medical facility, but this is required to control the spread of the disease before the mass vaccination program starts.

It is crucial to understand that around one in three people are asymptomatic (do not display any symptoms), but you should look out for these common symptoms of COVID-19.

1. A new and persistent cough

A cough is perhaps the most common symptom that people associate with the coronavirus, although, of course, this cough may be the sign of chest infection. The cough associated with COVID-19 is a dry, new and continuous cough defined as three or more severe coughing episodes in a 24-hour period. Typically, the cough would be significantly worse than that associated with a common cold.

2. A raised temperature (fever)

A raised temperature is usually one that is above 38 degrees Celsius. However, it can generally be recognised by touching the chest or back, and if they are noticeably warm, this is a sign of a fever. Thermometers can give inaccurate readings, especially when used by well-meaning amateurs meaning the touch test is more reliable.

3. A change or a loss of taste or smell

Another common symptom associated with those who are suffering from COVID-19 is a loss of or change to taste or smell. The changes can be quite subtle, but it is important to recognise if your favourite foods or drinks taste or smell different; we would recommend taking a COVID-19 test at the earliest opportunity, especially if you have one or more of the other symptoms.

4. Tiredness

Unexplained tiredness can often be a symptom of COVID-19 and would typically be described as difficulty completing regular day to day activities or sleeping for significantly longer than usual. Tiredness is a common symptom of many illnesses, but a COVID-19 test should be considered if you are displaying it along with other symptoms.

5. Shortage of breath 

Shortage of breath due to complications with the lungs is a common sign associated with the coronavirus and can develop quickly. It is potentially one of the more severe symptoms, so it should not be ignored. If you experience a noticeable shortage of breath, you should seek medical advice.

Less common symptoms

Most people experience one or more of the symptoms above, but it is also possible that this may be in conjunction with these less common signs:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Conjunctivitis – a reddening of the whites of the eyes
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rash