Four new symptoms have been linked to coronavirus

A study has suggested there could be four additional symptoms of coronavirus.

At the moment, the official symptoms recognised by the NHS are a loss of smell and taste, a fever and a new persistent cough.

But chills, a loss of appetite, headaches and muscle aches could also be included, according to a study of more than one million people in England.

The research is based on swab tests and questionnaires from Imperial College London’s React study, carried out between June 2020 and January 2021.

Having any of the ‘new’ symptoms or the classic ones – either alone or in combination – was linked with being infected with Covid-19. And the more symptoms people showed, the more likely they were to test positive.

Scientists fear these additional symptoms could mean people don’t get tested or self-isolate, because they don’t recognise them as possible signs of coronavirus.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React programme at Imperial, said: ‘These new findings suggest many people with Covid-19 won’t be getting tested – and therefore won’t be self-isolating – because their symptoms don’t match those used in current public health guidance to help identify infected people.

‘We understand that there is a need for clear testing criteria, and that including lots of symptoms which are commonly found in other illnesses like seasonal flu could risk people self-isolating unnecessarily.

‘I hope that our findings on the most informative symptoms mean that the testing programme can take advantage of the most up-to-date evidence, helping to identify more infected people.’

But the study also found around 60% of infected people did not report any symptoms in the week leading up to their test.

There also appeared to be a variation in symptoms with age. Chills were linked with a positive test across all ages, but headaches were reported more in teenagers and appetite loss with people over 18.

Muscle aches were mostly reported in people aged between 18 and 54.

Infected five to 17 year olds were also less likely to report fever, a persistent cough and appetite loss compared with adults, the study suggested.

People in England are currently encouraged to get a coronavirus test if they think they have any of the classic symptoms.

Researchers believe if everyone who had the classic symptoms were tested, it would pick up around half of all symptomatic infections. But they claim if these ‘new’ symptoms were included, this could be improved to three-quarters of symptomatic infections.

The study – which has not yet been peer-reviewed – also investigated whether the new Kent variant of the virus is linked to different symptoms.

Researchers looked at self-reported symptoms and swab test results collected for the React study in November and December, when Public Health England estimated the variant made up around 16% of infections.

They compared this with similar data collected in January, when an estimated 86% of infections were from the variant.

Although it appeared symptoms were broadly similar, the study suggested a loss or change to one’s sense of smell was not as common.

But the number of people testing positive with a new persistent cough appeared higher.

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