Cold and Flu vs Covid-19

Flu 2020

As well as being in the midst of a global pandemic, we are now also approaching flu season.

With the flu virus co-existing with Covid-19, it is important to protect ourselves and others, to ensure that those vulnerable to Covid-19 are also not at risk of catching the flu as well. It is possible to be infected with both at the same time, and doing so increases the risk of complications and even death.

Both virus’s share similar symptoms, but there are some key differences.




Incubation period

2 to 14 days

1 to 4 days

Common symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  •  Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat

Less common symptoms

  • Body aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or diarrhoea
  •  Nausea or diarrhoea

Symptom onset




Can be asymptomatic or mild, but 1 in 5 may require hospitalisation; symptoms may worsen in the second week of the illness.

Typically mild, resolving in about a week; some cases may require hospitalisation


Higher when someone is showing symptoms; asymptomatic people may also spread the virus.

Starting 1 day before symptoms appear and for 3 to 5 days afterward.

Vaccines and medications

Currently none available.

Seasonal vaccine and anti-viral medication.


It is not just those that are at an increased risk of flu that should be vaccinated, but also anyone that comes in to contact with them. This ensures that the virus is not passed on to others, as this is possible even if symptoms are not present.

It is important to remember that if you do develop any symptoms of Covid-19, even if you believe these to be cold or flu related, you must follow the government guidelines with regards to testing and isolation.

Published 24th September 2020

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