A day-by-day breakdown of coronavirus symptoms shows how COVID-19 goes (Chinese data)

It starts with a fever. That's the most common symptom among people who get the coronavirus that's sweeping the world.

A February study of nearly 140 patients at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China identified a typical pattern of symptoms associated with COVID-19. About 99% of the patients developed a high temperature, while more than half experienced fatigue and a dry cough. About a third also experienced muscle pain and difficulty breathing.

Research from the Chinese Center for Disease Control has suggested that about 80% of coronavirus cases are mild. About 15% of patients have gotten severe cases, and 5% have become critically ill.

Here's how symptoms typically progress among patients:

· Day 1: Patients run a fever. They may also experience fatigue, muscle pain, and a dry cough. A small minority may have had diarrhea or nausea one or two days before.

· Day 5: Patients may have difficulty breathing, especially if they are older or have a preexisting health condition.

· Day 7: This is how long it takes, on average, before patients are admitted to a hospital, the Wuhan University study found.

· Day 8: At this point, patients with severe cases develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, an illness that occurs when fluid builds up the lungs. ARDS is often fatal.

· Day 10: If patients have worsening symptoms, this is the time in the disease's progression when they're most likely to be admitted to the ICU. These patients probably have more abdominal pain and appetite loss than patients with milder cases. Only a small fraction die: The fatality rate has hovered at about 3%.

· Day 17: On average, people who recover from the virus are discharged from the hospital after 2 1/2 weeks.

The first symptoms, however, may not come right after a person has been infected. A recent study found that the virus' average incubation period is about five days.

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