The three new COVID symptoms doctors want added to the official list

Catriona Harvey-Jenner
·3-min read
Photo credit: Victoriia Paliy - Getty Images
Photo credit: Victoriia Paliy - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

The UK currently lists three key symptoms as the most common indicators of coronavirus; a fever, cough, and loss of taste/smell. But a group of 140 GPs have written a letter to the British Medical Journal requesting that some new, more cold-like COVID-19 symptoms are added to the official, recognised list.

The symptoms in question include a runny nose, headaches, and a sore throat. The medical practitioner who led the group, GP and honorary clinical lecturer at Queen Mary University Dr Alex Sohal, said she has experienced numerous patients in her surgery who have come in with those symptoms, and gone on to test positive for COVID.

However, she points out that at current, only patients with the three core symptoms are invited to take a test in the UK, which is problematic in detecting cases and therefore reducing spread.

"The national publicity campaign focuses on cough, high temperature, and loss of smell or taste as symptoms to be aware of — only patients with these symptoms are able to access a COVID-19 test online through the NHS test booking site. GPs have to advise patients to be dishonest to get a COVID test," wrote Dr Sohal in the letter.

Photo credit: Studio Light and Shade - Getty Images
Photo credit: Studio Light and Shade - Getty Images

"These patients have frequently not even considered that they may have COVID-19 and have not self-isolated in the crucial early days when they were most infectious," continued the letter, which was addressed to the government's Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, and Public Health England's COVID-19 response director, Dr Susan Hopkins.

Other symptoms the GP has noticed among patients to go on to receive a positive COVID test are hoarseness in the voice, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Dr Sohal, with the support of more than 140 other doctors, urged the medical leaders that it is "vital" to change the UK COVID-19 case definition and test criteria. "Tell the public, especially those who have to go out to work and their employers, that even those with mild symptoms (not only a cough, high temperature, and a loss of smell or taste) should not go out, prioritising the first five days of self-isolation when they are most likely to be infectious."

In the letter, the GPs pointed out that the UK's core recognised COVID symptoms are not completely in line the World Health Organisation's (WHO). On the WHO website, the most common symptoms are listed as:

  • Fever

  • Dry cough

  • Tiredness

They also list some "less common symptoms" that people should be aware of, which include some the ones Dr Sohal referenced in her letter, and more. These are:

  • Aches and pains

  • Sore throat

  • Diarrhoea

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Headache

  • Loss of taste or smell

  • A rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes

Obviously the most important thing is to listen to is government advice. However, it can't necessarily hurt to take extra self-isolation precautions if you do find yourself experiencing some of the cold-like symptoms described above, without the other core signs. Ultimately, we all have the same goal, which is to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. So keep being aware of how you're feeling, and act accordingly if you start to develop any symptoms.

The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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