Is this COVID-19 or Dengue?


The differentiation between dengue and COVID-19 diagnoses is challenging in tropical regions because of the similarity of symptoms and limited access to specific diagnostic tests for each disease. According to research, most people who get dengue or COVID-19 have mild illnesses and can recover at home and feel better after a week or two. However, some will be at risk of developing severe diseases that could be life-threatening and require hospital-based care that differs between conditions.

Warning signs for COVID-19 and Dengue.

COVID-19: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, the new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhoea.

Dengue: Nausea, vomiting, rash, aches and pains, gum bleeding, lethargy and restlessness.

Common factors of COVID-19 and Dengue? 

Both COVID-19 and dengue fever are infections caused by viruses. They could both cause fever and body ache in the affected individual. Additionally, both these viruses could cause mild to severe symptoms. In their severe forms, both conditions could damage multiple organ systems and cause death in their severe forms. 

Difference between COVID-19 and Dengue? 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. It is most often transmitted from one person to another via respiratory droplets that are spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. However, dengue fever is caused by the dengue viruses that spread through the infected Aedes species mosquitoes’ bite. 

Dengue’s incubation period ranges between 3-10 days, typically 5-7 days. On the other hand, COVID-19 is thought to extend to 14 days, with a median of 3-5 days from exposure to symptoms onset.

What are the possible complications of COVID-19 and Dengue? 

Some people, about 1 in 6, may have complications, including life-threatening ones. 

COVID-19 complications may include the following

  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Kidney complications
  • Severe lung disease
  • Blood clots
  • Death

A small percentage of people who have dengue fever can develop a more serious form of the disease.

Its complications may include the following

  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Bleeding
  • Hemorrhagic fever
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Death

These lists are not exhaustive.

How can you protect yourself from COVID-19 and Dengue?


  • Get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to you and follow local guidance on vaccination.
  • Maintain distance, avoid crowds and close contact.
  • Double mask while going out.
  • Clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately and clean hands regularly. 
  • If you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, self-isolate until you recover.


  • Use mosquito repellent.
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing.
  • Use mosquito nets/screens at home.
  • Cover and clean water containers of stagnant water regularly.

When should you see a doctor?

It is best to consult a doctor if fever develops with any of the following:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Pain in muscle or bone 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough

It is difficult to differentiate COVID-19 from dengue fever during the early stages of the illness. A PCR or Rapid Antigen Test is the best (and only) way to rule out COVID-19. If you test positive and need to isolate at home, the oDoc Home Care package brings you a dedicated doctor virtually to monitor your symptoms every day while you recover. Tested positive? Start your recovery now!

On the other hand, a complete blood count test and a Nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or a Dengue antigen test (NS1) must be done to check for Dengue. Our mobile lab service, oLabs, comes to your door so you don’t need to leave home for blood tests. If you are experiencing any of the severe symptoms mentioned above and need to clarify certain doubts, speak to one of our doctors on oDoc! Download the app today!


  1. Symptoms of COVID-19, Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (2021)
  2. How do You Tell COVID-19 and Dengue Apart?, Health plus (2020)
  3. Differentiating Dengue from COVID-19: Comparison of Cases in Colombia, ASTMH (2021)
  4. Advice for the public: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). World Health Organisation (2021)

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