While many people who become infected experience only mild symptoms, there are emergency warning signs to look out for, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These include persistent pain or pressure in the chest, mental confusion or low responsiveness to stimuli, as well as bluish tinge to the lips or face.
Some patients may also experience shortness of breath, sore throat and general aches and pains. There is growing evidence that a loss of taste or smell could also be a symptom of the disease.
The WHO said very few people reported diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.
Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the novel coronavirus, according to the US CDC.
If you have a fever, difficulty breathing or other severe or concerning symptoms, wear a surgical mask, seek medical attention promptly and reveal your recent travel history.
The virus spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose, the WHO said. A Hong Kong study also confirmed that Covid-19 can be transmitted through faeces.
China’s National Health Commission has warned that people who have been infected but show no symptoms can be contagious, with research showing these asymptomatic cases have led to sporadic clusters of the disease.
Limited studies suggest the viral loads in the respiratory samples of asymptomatic patients – a key metric of an infected person's transmission capability – do not demonstrate distinct differences from those of confirmed cases, according to Chang Jile, head of the commission's disease control bureau.
People of all ages can be infected by the coronavirus and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment, according to the WHO. Some may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia.
However, older people and those with underlying or pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death, the WHO said.
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