Cold, flu or coronavirus: how to tell the symptoms apart

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus. This strain of coronavirus hadn’t been seen in humans before – it emerged in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Vaccines for Covid-19 have been approved and are currently being administered in the UK. Find out more information about the vaccine and who will be prioritised in the rollout.

Influenza (flu) is also a respiratory illness that affects your lungs, but flu is caused by a different kind of virus, instead of a coronavirus. Flu can be dangerous, which is why those with underlying medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes are offered a flu jab at this time of year.

Colds are caused by many different viruses, but most commonly a rhinovirus or a coronavirus. A cold is also a viral infection, but it only affects your upper respiratory tract (your nose and throat) instead of your lungs. Because of this a cold is often referred to as a “head cold”. Colds usually aren’t serious.

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