Publications & Reports

Review of Burden, Clinical Definitions, and Management of COVID-19 Cases.

McArthur L, Sakthivel D, Ataide R, Chan F, Richards JS, Narh CA
School of Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Australia.


Our understanding of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), its clinical manifestations, and treatment options continues to evolve at an unparalleled pace. This review sought to summarize the key literature regarding transmission, case definitions, clinical management, and the burden of COVID-19. Our review of the literature showed that SARS-CoV-2 was mainly transmitted via inhalation of respiratory droplets containing the virus and had a mean incubation period of 4-6 days. The commonly reported symptoms were fever (75.3% +/- 18.7%) and cough (62.6% +/- 17.7%) across the spectrum of clinical disease-mild, moderate, severe, and critical, but with the disease phenotype varying with severity. Categorization of these cases for home care or hospital management needs to be defined, with risk stratification accounting for the age of the patient and the presence of underlying comorbidities. The case definitions varied among countries, which could have contributed to the differences in the case fatality rates among affected countries. The severity and risk of death due to COVID-19 was associated with age and underlying comorbidities. Asymptomatic cases, which constitute which constitute 40-80% of COVID-19 cases are a considerable threat to control efforts. The presence of fever and cough may be sufficient to warrant COVID-19 testing, but using these symptoms in isolation will miss a proportion of cases. A clear definition of a COVID-19 case is essential for the management, treatment, and tracking of clinical illness, and to inform the quarantine measures and social distancing that can help control the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • Published: 01/07/2020
  • Volume: 103
  • Issue: 2
  • Pagination: 625-638