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Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China

Our take —

This study, a large case series from Wuhan during the initial phase of the epidemic, provides strong evidence for the common presentations of fever and cough in the majority of COVID-19 patients, along with ground-glass opacity on CT scans. Other findings, such as the proportions of cases progressing to critical care or death, may not be generalizable to other settings and times.

Study design

Case Series

Study population and setting

This is a case series of 1,099 patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 from 552 hospitals in 30 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities of mainland China from December, 2019 to January 29, 2020.

Summary of Main Findings

The median age of COVID-19 patients was 47, and 41.9% were female. 5.0% of COVID-19 patients were admitted to an ICU, 2.3% required mechanical ventilation, and 1.4% died. Common symptoms included fever (43.8% on admission and 88.7% subsequently), cough (67.8%), and lymphocytopenia (83.2%). Ground-glass opacity was the most common finding on computed tomography (56.4%). The median incubation period, based on exposure history extracted from medical records, was 4 days (IQR 2-7 days).

Study Strengths

The size of the case series permits more robust estimates of symptom prevalence and outcome probabilities.


Although patients from all over the country were included, most patients were either from Wuhan, or were likely exposed in Wuhan, limiting geographic representation. Asymptomatic and milder cases are not represented.

Value added

This is the largest case series from China at the time of writing this review (through March 6, 2020).