With winter fast-approaching and children now back at school, it’s common for colds, flu and similar viral infections to circulate.

But the symptoms of cold and flu can be broadly similar to those experienced by people who have caught coronavirus, and who may be at risk of spreading it.

So it can be difficult to work out which one you have.

It is important that people living across Merseyside and beyond are vigilant for the symptoms of Covid-19 and understand what actions we should take we, or someone in our household, develops them.

So when do we need to be tested? When do we need to self-isolate?

And what are the main differences between colds, flu and coronavirus?

NHS advice says it is essential that people who have Covid-19 symptoms, or who share a household with someone who has symptoms, must self-isolate along with all members of their household:

Colds

The most common symptoms of a cold are a blocked or runny nose, sneezing, aches and pains, and a sore throat. A mild cough may also be experienced.

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NHS guidelines say cold symptoms develop gradually.

Flu

Flu most commonly consists of a fever, fatigue, aching body, and a dry cough.

Diarrhoea can sometimes occur, especially in children.

The NHS notes there is usually a rapid onset of symptoms.

Coronavirus

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, get a test as soon as possible. Stay at home until you get the result.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

Differing from a mild cough you may get with a cold, a coronavirus cough means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits or “episodes” in 24 hours.

A high temperature is 37.8C or above. A fever like this can happen when the body is fighting off any infection – not just coronavirus.

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Although fever is a key coronavirus symptom, it could be flu or a different infection. A high temperature is unlikely with a cold.

If you have a fever, arrange a coronavirus test – you can use the NHS 111 coronavirus service online.

A loss or change to sense of smell or taste are key symptoms of coronavirus and mean you should get a test.

It could still be that you have a simple cold. But you need to check, even if you don’t feel unwell, to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:

Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.

You and anyone you live with should stay at home and only leave your home to have a test.

Anyone in your support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.

You can book a coronavirus test here