Wuhan Coronavirus : What Are Its Key Symptoms?

One of the key issues doctors and public health officials have is clinically determining if a patient has the symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus.

As it so happens, the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic occurred during a bad influenza season, making it difficult to differentiate between the two.

But thanks to a new JAMA-published study, doctors and public health officials can now better identify Wuhan coronavirus patients!

Coronavirus sample


Wuhan Coronavirus : What Are Its Key Symptoms?

The study on the clinical presentation of 2019-nCoV patients by Dawei Wang and his team was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on 7 February 2020.

It looked at the clinical characteristics of 138 patients who were hospitalised at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, from 1 January to 28 January 2020.

Wuhan Coronavirus : What Are Its Key Symptoms?

Top 5 Symptoms Of Wuhan Coronavirus Patients

Their study showed that fever was the chief symptom, and there were very few reports of headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting.

Just over half the patients had a dry cough, and only about a third reported muscle painInterestingly, no one reported a runny or stuffy nose.

This will help to clinically differentiate 2019-nCoV from the far more common influenza, especially if a lab test is not readily available.

Here are the top 5 symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus that the study identified from those 138 patients :

Top 5 Symptoms No. Of Patients % Of Patients
Fever 136 98.6%
Fatigue 96 69.6%
Dry Cough 82 59.4%
(Muscle Pain)
48 34.8%
(Shortness of Breath)
43 31.2%

Wuhan medical staff with protection

Top 5 Symptoms Of Wuhan Coronavirus Patients Requiring ICU Care

Dawei Wang’s team also looked at what symptoms were more common in patients who ended up requiring ICU care.

They found that these patients were more likely to lose significant weight and suffer shortness of breath, compared to patients who did not require ICU care.

Here are the top 5 symptoms in patients requiring ICU care. Note that a P value of < 0.05 is considered statistically significant.

Symptoms ICU Non-ICU P Value
Anorexia 66.7% 30.4% < 0.001
(Shortness of Breath)
63.9% 19.6% < 0.001
Dizziness 22.2% 4.9% 0.007
(Pain in Pharynx)
33.3% 11.8% 0.003
Abdominal Pain 8.3% 0.0% 0.02

Wuhan Coronavirus : What Are Its Key Symptoms?


How Did The Chinese Treat The Wuhan Coronavirus Patients?

Dawei Wang and his team also looked at the treatments Chinese doctors used on those 138 patients.

The key treatments they used against the Wuhan coronavirus were Tamiflu (oseltamivir), oxygen support, and glucocorticoid therapy.

Treatment No. Of Patients % Of Patients
Antiviral (Oseltamivir) 124 89.9%
Oxygen 106 76.8%
Glucocorticoid 62 44.9%

Just before the report was released, they did a final follow-up on 3 February 2020, and found that :

  • 47 patients (34.1%) recovered, and had been discharged
  • 85 patients (61.6%) were still hospitalised
  • 6 patients (4.3%) died

It is still early to tell whether the antiviral treatment is working, but it’s heartening to see that a significant number of patients have fully recovered.


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