COVID-19 vs. Dengue fever - How to tell them apart

Is it COVID-19 or dengue fever?

COVID-19 and dengue fever are two infectious diseases that are easily confused for one another. This is because they share some major symptoms, making it difficult to tell them apart. However, there are some key differences between COVID-19 and dengue fever that can help us distinguish between them. In this blog post we will go over the most common symptoms that are shared between COVID-19 and dengue fever, and also the major differences between them.

What are the similarities?

1. Severity of cases

Most dengue fever and COVID-19 cases are not severe, and symptoms are usually mild. Most people with mild cases of either disease can usually recover at home. In addition, symptoms usually last only a few days, and people tend to feel better after a week. However, in severe cases, both diseases may result in death.

2. Common Symptoms

Fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle pain and rashes are the symptoms that both COVID-19 and dengue fever share. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. However, should you experience any of these symptoms, please see a doctor immediately. If you are in Singapore, you may visit your nearest Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) to seek professional medical advice.

What are the differences?

1. Incubation Period

For those unfamiliar with the term "incubation period", it refers to the delay between the time when you contract a disease and the time when you develop the symptoms of the disease. The incubation period of COVID-19 and that of dengue fever are slightly different.

  • For COVID-19, symptoms usually appear after 4-5 days, but the delay may be up to 14 days.
  • For dengue fever, the incubation period is usually slightly longer, between 5-7 days, but it may range between 3-10 days.

2. Different Symptoms

There are certain symptoms that are unique to dengue fever and COVID-19. Here are some of them:

Symptoms unique to COVID-19

  • A dry cough is associated with COVID-19 and not with dengue fever. If you have a cough along with fever, please seek medical advice immediately!
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing is another symptom that is present in COVID-19 patients but not in dengue fever patients.
  • Loss of taste and smell may also be a symptom in COVID-19. Do note that some individuals with dengue fever report experiencing altered senses of taste and smell.

Symptoms unique to Dengue Fever

  • A headache accompanied by an intense pain behind the eyes is indicative of dengue fever instead of COVID-19.
  • A low white blood cell count is also associated with dengue fever instead of COVID-19.
  • Mild bleeding (from the nose and gums, or easy bruising from minor knocks and bumps) is also a symptom of dengue fever and not COVID-19.

Where do I seek professional medical advice?

Ultimately, both COVID-19 and dengue fever are diseases that may be life-threatening. If you are in Singapore, find out the location of your nearest Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) to seek professional medical advice. Let's stay vigilant so we can overcome both COVID-19 and dengue fever together!


What are we doing to help?

To combat the rise in dengue fever cases in Singapore, Oceania Robotics is actively developing the world's first mosquito-control robot. The robot uses a combination of visual cues, olfactory cues and motion to attract and trap mosquitoes responsible for the spread of dengue fever. If you are interested in a demo or a free trial at your facility, contact us to find out more!

Alternately, connect with us on Facebook!


Medical information obtained from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Parkway East Hospital