Coronavirus: UK heading for 'population immunity' says expert
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The NHS testing approach has consistently relied on the belief that there are three main warning signs of coronavirus. The “classic three”, as they have become known, are cough, fever and loss of smell. This assertion is out of step with findings gathered from reputable sources, such as the COVID Symptom Study app.
Recent research conducted by the app’s researchers suggest that only testing people with the three classic symptoms may have led to hundreds of thousands of cases in the UK being missed over the course of the pandemic.
Simply adding fatigue, sore throat, headache and diarrhoea to the classic three symptoms for NHS testing would detect many more cases, helping to stop the spread of the virus and bring the pandemic to an end, the researchers claim.
In fact, the list of non-classic symptoms is not confined to seven.
ZOE COVID Symptom Study app contributors are offered a test if they report any of the potential symptoms of the disease, including:
- Severe fatigue
- Change or loss of smell (anosmia) or taste
- Persistent cough
- High temperature/fever
- Unusual pains in the chest, abdomen or muscles
- Sore throat or a hoarse voice
- Severe shortness of breath
- Sudden confusion (delirium)
- Skipping meals
- Skin rash
- Changes to the tongue or mouth ulcers.
The team behind the app are calling on the government to expand NHS PCR swab testing to people experiencing a wider range of symptoms, to help detect and contain more cases and ultimately end the pandemic.
“When PCR testing was scarcely available, it made sense to restrict it,” says Dr Claire Steves, Reader at King’s College London and lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app.
“Now in the UK we have plenty of tests available, thanks to so much effort by labs all over the country, and every positive person detected could save lives. We urge the Government to expand the testing criteria so that anyone with new symptoms that might be COVID-19 should be able to get a test to help stop the spread of the virus.”
What to do if you have symptoms
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
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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.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
- You’re worried about your symptoms
- You’re not sure what to do.
What if I am suffering from long Covid symptoms?
How long it takes to recover from coronavirus is different for everybody.
As the NHS explains, many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer.
There are lots of symptoms you can have after a coronavirus infection.
Common long COVID symptoms include:
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- Heart palpitations
- Pins and needles
- Joint pain
- Depression and anxiety
- Tinnitus, earaches
- Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- A high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
According to the NHS, you should contact a GP if you’re worried about symptoms four weeks or more after having coronavirus.
As the health body explains, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impact they’re having on your life.
“They may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could be causing them.”
These might include:
- Blood tests
- Checking your blood pressure and heart rate
- A chest X-ray.
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