Differential diagnosis of illness in patients under investigation for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), Italy, February 2020

Euro Surveill. 2020 Feb;25(8):2000170. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.8.2000170.


A novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified as the causative pathogen of an ongoing outbreak of respiratory disease, now named COVID-19. Most cases and sustained transmission occurred in China, but travel-associated cases have been reported in other countries, including Europe and Italy. Since the symptoms are similar to other respiratory infections, differential diagnosis in travellers arriving from countries with wide-spread COVID-19 must include other more common infections such as influenza and other respiratory tract diseases.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; differential diagnosis; rapid molecular assay; respiratory pathogens.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Betacoronavirus* / genetics
  • Betacoronavirus* / isolation & purification
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Mass Screening
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques* / methods
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques* / standards
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Travel