The COVID-19 epidemic was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by WHO on 30th January 2020 . As of 8 March 2020, over 107,000 cases had been reported. Here, we use published and preprint studies of clinical characteristics of cases in mainland China as well as case studies of individuals from Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea to examine the proportional occurrence of symptoms and the progression of symptoms through time. We find that in mainland China, where specific symptoms or disease presentation are reported, pneumonia is the most frequently mentioned, see figure 1. We found a more varied spectrum of severity in cases outside mainland China. In Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, fever was the most frequently reported symptom. In this latter group, presentation with pneumonia is not reported as frequently although it is more common in individuals over 60 years old. The average time from reported onset of first symptoms to the occurrence of specific symptoms or disease presentation, such as pneumonia or the use of mechanical ventilation, varied substantially. The average time to presentation with pneumonia is 5.88 days, and may be linked to testing at hospitalisation; fever is often reported at onset (where the mean time to develop fever is 0.77 days).