Sky News host grills Michelle Donelan on coronavirus variants
The UK government is facing growing pressure to crack down on border controls to stop more cases of the South Africa strain from entering the UK. The variant, known as B.1.351, has already been discovered in a small number of people in the UK. While there is no evidence to suggest the South Africa strain is more deadly than other mutations, fears that it could elude the vaccines are raising the temperature.
For now, the most important step is to pay close attention to the symptoms of coronavirus and self-isolate if you spot them.
According to the ZOE COVID symptom study app, fever (a raised temperature) is a common symptom of COVID-19, affecting more than two thirds of people with the disease.
As the app explains, the average human body temperature is around 36.5 to 37.5°C, although this is known to vary with the time of day and how it’s measured.
Current health guidelines advise that anyone with a temperature of 37.8°C or more should be considered to be potentially infected with COVID-19 and should self-isolate.
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A new pre-print study conducted by researchers at King’s College London suggests that national guidance on body temperature and fever should be adjusted to take age into account.
Working with data gathered from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, the TwinsUK cohort and two hospital cohorts, lexapro and tingling the team found that basal body temperature was lower in older people and those with a lower body mass index (BMI).
Your basal body temperature is your temperature when you’re fully at rest.
Older people with COVID-19 were also less likely to have a fever reaching 37.8°C or more, with the chances dropping by one percent with every additional year of age.
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The research suggests that Covid cases in elderly people, the most at risk group, might be missed as fever temperatures in older people are often lower than the 37.8°C threshold.
What’s more, the paper shows that temperature regulation also changes with age and body mass, with older and thinner people usually having a slightly lower temperature and finding it harder to stay warm.
To find out more about the relationship between temperature and age, the researchers analysed data from four different groups: 1,089 adult twins without COVID-19, 1,284 people hospitalised with COVID-19 in London (520) and Birmingham (764), 3,967 users of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app with confirmed COVID-19.
Based on their analysis, the researchers found that using a threshold of 37.4°C for over 65s is as sensitive and specific a sign of infection as 37.8°C in adults under 65.
The researchers said the findings support a call for the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) guidelines to be revised, reducing the temperature at which COVID-19 is suspected for adults over 65.
NEWS is a tool developed by the Royal College of Physicians which improves the detection and response to clinical deterioration in adult patients and is a key element of patient safety and improving patient outcomes.
What are the other main symptoms of coronavirus?
In addition to fever, a new continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste are common indicators.
According to the NHS, most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.
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.
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