What is the Difference Between the Novel coronavirus and Flu?

March 24, 2020

spread of coronavirus vs spread of flu Denver Health

You've heard a lot about how the symptoms of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, are similar to the flu or influenza. The main symptoms of the novel coronavirus are fever plus cough and shortness of breath, which can also appear when someone has a flu or even a common cold.

There are some key differences which may help explain why the new coronavirus has become a pandemic and why social distancing, staying at home and practicing good hygiene are the key to stopping its spread.

Denver Health Chief Medical Officer Connie Price, MD explains, "the newly emerged COVID-19 virus spreads more quickly than influenza." Dr. Price also pointed out the differences in the fatality rate between the two illnesses:

Find out the key differences between COVID-19 and the flu in this :30 video.


  • The COVID-19 fatality rate is between 1-3 percent
  • The influenza (flu) fatality rate is between 0.1-0.25 percent


This may explain why although there are more cases of the common flu, the new coronavirus is a much higher risk to the health of all people and why it is important to heed the warnings about stopping the spread.

"We are all in this together," said Denver Health Chief Nursing Officer Kathy Boyle, PhD, RN, "Denver Health is here to care for our patients, our patients' families and the community."

For the latest updates and news on the novel coronavirus and preventing further spread, visit DenverHealth.org/coronavirus. See our latest patient visitor policy.

Categories: Coronavirus