The symptoms of COVID-19 are as follows:

  • fever:
    • in children 0-5 years old: 38.5°C (101.3°F) and above (rectal temperature),
    • in children 6 years and older: 38.1°C (100.6°F) and above (oral temperature),
    • in adults: 38°C (100.4°F) and above (oral temperature),
    • in older adults: 37.8°C (100°F) and above (oral temperature),
    • or 1.1°C above the person's usual value;
  • general symptoms:
    • sudden loss of sense of smell without nasal congestion, with or without loss of taste,
    • major fatigue,
    • significant loss of appetite,
    • general muscle pain (not related to physical exertion),
    • headache;
  • respiratory symptoms:
    • cough (new or worse),
    • shortness of breath, difficulty breathing,
    • sore throat;
  • gastrointestinal symptoms:
    • nausea,
    • vomiting,
    • diarrhea,
    • stomach aches.

Symptoms can be mild or more severe like those associated with pneumonia.

Some people can spread the virus without knowing it because they have no symptoms or have not yet developed them. 

People most at risk of dying from complications are those:

  • with a weak immune system;
  • with a chronic disease such as diabetes or heart, lung and kidney disease;
  • age 70 and older.

However, the risk of death is highest for people aged 70 and older.

Development of symptoms

Symptoms develop on average from 5 to 7 days after contamination, but may appear over a 2 to 12 day period of time. To be cautious, at least 14 days of isolation is recommended.

If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms similar to COVID-19, you are invited to complete the COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment to get a recommendation on the next steps to follow, according to your condition. This assessment can be completed for your child or for another member of your family. However, this tool is not intended to be a substitute for medical attention. People who develop symptoms can also contact 1‑877‑644‑4545. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you could be required to take a screening test in certain situations. For more details, go to the screening test page.

Note that you must self-isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Consult the page When to self-isolate to find out about the different self-isolation directives according to your situation.

Modes of transmission

COVID‑19 is spread from person to person by contact with droplets projected into the air when a person who is sick talks, coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by infected hands. This is why it is important to wear a mask. This means that you can contract a coronavirus by touching your mouth, nose or eyes after contact with an infected person or surface. The risks of transmission vary according to the nature of contact between people (JPG 2.53 Mb). While it can be spread by contaminated objects or surfaces, this is not the main mode of transmission. 

The exact mode of transmission of COVID‑19 is unknown at this time. However, a person with COVID‑19 is thought to be contagious from 48 hours before their symptoms appear. Studies are ongoing.

In general, coronaviruses do not survive for long on objects. They can survive on surfaces for a few hours to several days. It mainly depends on the type of surface (for example, copper, cardboard, stainless steel, plastic), the temperature and ambient humidity. According to findings from a recent experiment, the virus might be able to survive up to:

  • 4 hours on copper;
  • 24 hours on cardboard;
  • 48 hours (2 days) on stainless steel;
  • 72 hours (3 days) on plastic.

At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19. You should continue to wash fruits and vegetables as usual and to follow good hygiene practices during food preparation. 

In Québec, there is no evidence to suggest that people are at risk of contracting COVID‑19 from animals or animal products.

Some viruses in the coronavirus family cause disease in animals, while others cause disease in humans. Coronaviruses that cause disease in humans can be spread by close contact between people. In rare cases, coronaviruses that infect animals can also infect people. Like SARS‑CoV‑2, the virus responsible for COVID‑19, two other coronaviruses are spread from animals to humans and cause or have caused serious disease in humans, namely, SARS‑CoV in 2003 and MERS‑CoV since 2012.


There is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. Supportive treatment may, however, be provided.

You will find health advice to alleviate the symptoms in the self-care guide.

Most people with COVID-19 will recover on their own.