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Covid symptoms: everything we now know about the virus and its variants

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What are the less common symptoms?

Other symptoms may include:

  • Aches or muscle pain
  • Congestion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Skin rashes
  • Chills
  • Conjunctivitis

However, there is disagreement among scientists whether some of these symptoms – such as diarrhoea – are linked to Covid-19. 

How do I book a coronavirus test if I have symptoms?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or have been asked to take a test, you can order a test online via the gov.uk website or by calling 119.

You will be asked to attend a testing centre, or alternatively, you can receive a home testing kit if you cannot get to a test centre.

In England, you must get a test within 7 days of showing symptoms. From day 8 of showing symptoms, you must go to a test site as it’s too late to order a home test kit.

How to report your Covid test result?

If you have received a home test (PCR) kit, you must register your kit online following the test so that the result can be sent to you.

If you have taken a rapid swab (lateral flow) test, you will receive your results within two hours. If you receive a positive result, you must report this to the NHS, by either registering it online or by calling 119.

How long do coronavirus symptoms last?

Because Covid-19 is so new there is a good deal of uncertainty around this. One detailed medical report of a waitress on the Diamond Princess cruise ship – a disease hotspot – who had a mild form of the disease showed that she displayed symptoms for 10 days. And a study of nine German patients who were also only mildly affected showed that they displayed symptoms for between eight and 11 days.

People with more severe forms of the disease will take longer to recover – a study of 138 patients who were hospitalised in China showed that some patients were in hospital for up to two weeks, although the average stay was 10 days. 

Some people have been left with psychiatric problems, pain and fatigue for weeks after contracting Covid-19, known as long-Covid. There is no strict definition of this syndrome and research is ongoing. 

What is the incubation period?

Symptoms are thought to appear between two and 10 days after contracting the virus, but it may be up to 24 days.

Most people (about 80 per cent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. However, around one out of every six people (16 per cent) becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, lung complaints or diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

Is a rash a sign of coronavirus?

A skin rash is not yet recognised by the Government or the NHS as a symptom of coronavirus. Scientists have, however, said that rashes should be included as Covid symptoms after research carried out at King’s College London.

Researchers at the university said that characteristic skin rashes and “Covid fingers and toes” can occur in the absence of any other symptoms, and so should be considered when diagnosing Covid-19.

Using data from the Covid Symptom Study app from 336,000 regular UK users, the King’s College London research found that 8.8 per cent of people testing positive for the disease had experienced a skin rash as part of their symptoms.

This compared to 5.4 per cent of people with a negative test result, leading the study authors to write: “This study strongly supports the inclusion of skin rashes in the list of suspicious Covid-19 symptoms.

“Although it is less prevalent than fever, it is more specific of Covid-19 and lasts longer.”

Is vomiting a coronavirus symptom?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain and body aches and a headache can all be symptoms of coronavirus and the flu.

Some people report vomiting and diarrhea, but this is thought to be more common to flu than the coronavirus – as it has not yet been listed as one of the symptoms of Covid-19 – and more common in children than adults.

Is diarrhoea a Covid symptom?

Diarrhoea is not listed as a symptom of Covid-19, and appears more commonly as a symptom of flu.

A report authored by gastroenterologists from Wuhan’s Tongji Medical College and California’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre found that over half of their coronavirus cases presented with some form of digestive issue, and nearly a quarter presented with only gastric symptoms for the entirety of their illness. This has led to the term “gastric coronavirus” being coined.

What are the symptoms in children and babies?

According to the NHS, the main symptoms of coronavirus in children are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot, for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • A loss or change to sense of smell or taste – this means they cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

The US CDC also suggests that parents watch for fever, runny nose, fatigue, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhoea.



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