Coronavirus variant: Expert outlines details of new strain
The UK is besieged by not one but possibly two new mutated strains of coronavirus, which appear to be driving a surge of cases. The new variant, which early reports suggest is particularly transmissible among younger people, appears to be more contagious than its predecessor. Much of the UK is either in tier 4 restrictions or imminently heading into the restriction to try and combat the escalating situation.
Amid growing fears that these tough new measures will not curtail the outbreak, the general public must also play a role in stemming the spread.
Staying vigilant to the possible warning signs and self-isolating if you spot them is vital.
So, what should I be looking out for?
The NHS highlights three main symptoms associated with COVID-19:
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
What has become abundantly clear throughout the pandemic is that COVID-19 can also produce an array of less obvious symptoms too.
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Many of these symptoms have been logged in the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, which boasts over four million contributors.
Here’s a quick summary of what researchers behind the app have learned about non-classic COVID-19 symptoms this year:
- Headache and fatigue are among the most common early symptoms of COVID
- Sore throat, loss of appetite, and shortness of breath are also commonly reported
- Delirium is a common symptom in older people
- Rashes are seen in around eight of infections.
In some people, less typical symptoms like rashes or delirium are the only symptoms they experience.
According to the data, loss of smell or taste is one of the key early symptoms of COVID-19 and is the best predictor of infection.
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As the researchers point out, you can easily test yourself every day by taking a good sniff of something strong-smelling, such as coffee or scented candles or soap.
“Based on our analysis, we believe that people who have any suspicious symptoms should self-isolate and get tested, even if they don’t have the ‘classic triad’”, they note.
Commenting on the current surge, Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, said:
“Testing alone is not going to stop the spread, just as it didn’t with the previous waves.
People need to know all the symptoms and not just focus on the three “official” symptoms that miss over 20 percent of cases. Headache, fatigue, diarrhoea, muscle pain, skipping meals and confusion are just some of the other symptoms associated with COVID-19.
“If anyone is suffering from any of these over the coming weeks, stay at home, self isolate and get a test.”
How to respond
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19), but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover.
“If you have a cough, it’s best to avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead,” advises the NHS.
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