The official list of Covid-19 symptoms has been expanded to include nine new signs of illness. The extension of the symptoms list to include ailments such as sore throat, fatigue and headache could help to reduce infections, one expert said.
News that the symptoms list has been updated emerged just days after the Government ended the offer of free universal Covid-19 tests. It comes as Covid infection levels have hit a record high in the UK, with almost five million people estimated to be currently infected. Here’s what you need to know.
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The new symptoms have been added to the NHS website, along with the three traditional symptoms of a fever, a new and persistent cough, and a loss or change in taste or smell.
According to nhs.uk the signs of Covid-19 that people should look out for also include:
– feeling tired or exhausted;
– a blocked or runny nose;
– feeling sick or being sick.
A note on website adds: “The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.”
Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US have had longer symptom lists for some time, but in the UK the list had just three symptoms on the list for almost two years. It is understood that the Government’s chief medical officer would have needed to sign off on the expanded list of symptoms.
The news of the change to the NHS list emerged just days after free universal testing for Covid-19 ended in England. While some people still qualify for free tests in certain circumstances, the majority of people are now expected to go without or pay.
Under the previous testing regime people would only qualify for PCR tests – those performed in a lab – if they had one of the three main traditional symptoms or if they had been invited to take a test.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist of the Zoe Covid-19 symptom tracker app, wrote on Twitter: “NHS official Main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) have finally changed after 2 years of lobbying and Zoe app user input – hurrah! Pity they have the wrong order – but it’s a start and could help reduce infections. thanks ZOE loggers!”
In March, Professor Spector was highly critical of the Government’s “refusal” to recognize a “wider array of symptoms”, suggesting that not acknowledging the wider list of ailments afflicting people with the virus, along with the decision to drop isolation advice and withdraw free testing, could have driven up transmission rates.
How long before Covid symptoms show?
On average it takes between five and six days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.
What to do if you have Covid symptoms
According to Scottish Government advice, anyone in Scotland with Covid symptoms should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test.
Additional reporting by PA.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.