Symptoms and Outcomes

Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

Cough icon


Fever icon


Difficulty breathing icon

Difficulty breathing

Most people infected with COVID-19 will experience mild cold or flu-like symptoms (cough, fever), and some people may have little to no symptoms.

Symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19, and recent evidence shows that the virus can be transmitted to others from someone who is infected, but not showing symptoms (asymptomatic). Watch the 4-minute video below to learn from experts about people with asymptomatic disease and the spread of COVID-19.

Outcomes of COVID-19

Severity of Illness

In 80% of people infected, mild symptoms are experienced, while 20% of people infected develop more serious respiratory symptoms (pneumonia) which might require hospitalization, the need for mechanical ventilation or even result in death. Approximately 2-3% of people infected with COVID-19 die, but the risk is highest in vulnerable people.

Watch the 40-second video below that explains COVID-19 symptoms and the proportion of people in the general population that develop mild vs. severe symptoms.

The Impact of Age on COVID-19 Outcomes 

In Canada, patients with COVID-19 under the age of 20 have had very few hospitalizations (2%) are sick enough to be admitted to the hospital) and typically have mild symptoms. Similarly, if you are between the ages 20 and 59, the data suggests there is a low risk of hospitalization (7%) and severe symptoms.

The highest risk age group are those who are over the age of 60. Within this age group in Canada, there is an 11% hospitalization rate, with 6% of patients being admitted to the intensive care unit and 7% dying from the disease.

For more information on how age can impact your level of COVID-19 risk, please click here. 

Watch the 1-minute video below to see a breakdown of the COVID-19 cases and outcomes across people of different age groups in Canada. 

How COVID-19 is Different from the Flu

We have built a naturally immunity to the seasonal flu through years of vaccines and exposure. However, the seasonal flu is still a very serious condition.

If one person gets infected, they typically infect 1 to 1.3 people. The average number of hospitalizations (sick enough to be admitted to the hospital) from the seasonal flu is 2%, and reported deaths is less than 0.1%.

In comparison, for every person who gets infected with COVID-19 they infect 2 to 2.5 people, the hospitalization rate is 20%, and the percentage of reported deaths ranges from 1 to to 3.4% among patients that tested positive. 

Since symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a cold or flu, it can be difficult to determine if you're showing signs of COVID-19. Watch the 1-minute video below to learn directly from an expert gastroenterologist about how COVID-19 differs from the common cold and seasonal flu including symptoms, how fast they spread, and the fatality rates.

More information about COVID-19 symptoms and outcomes are available from the Government of Canada.

What is 'Flattening the Curve' and why is it important?

To really effect change we need to keep the number of cases low enough that we do not overwhelm our healthcare system. To do this, we are spreading out the epidemic (occurrence of new cases) to make it longer so we have enough resources to take care of these patients when the number of infected individuals peaks.  

Watch the 2-minute video below to learn from an expert gastroenterologist about what "flattening the curve" means and the impact it has on the healthcare system. 

Watch the 3-minute video below to learn more from an infectious disease and gastroenterologists about why flattening the curve is so important for people with inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr Benchimol and Dr Kaplan photos

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  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.