Coronavirus or flu: What’s the difference?

As flu season approaches, Ohioans may experience symptoms that resemble both coronavirus and the flu.

While the viruses share some similarities, there are a few ways to tell them apart.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the following are key difference between the flu and COVID-19:

When symptoms begin:

Flu: One to four days after the infections starts.

COVID-19: As early as two days after the infection or as late as 14 days.


Flu: Complications can happen, but are less likely due to immunity built up over time.

COVID-19: Because coronavirus is new most people have no immunity. Severe respiratory complications can happen extremely quickly.


Flu: Some signs include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, runny nose, headache and body aches.

COVID-19: Some symptoms are similar to the flu, but those with coronavirus sometimes experience a loss a taste or smell.


Flu: Flu can spread from person to person, between people in close contact and by air droplets.

COVID-19: Coronavirus can spread quicker and easier between people than the flu, sometimes resulting in superspreader events. It also is more contagious among certain age groups and certain people.

About the Author