The official NHS website has today (4 April) been updated with additional Covid symptoms, including a runny nose, sore throat and diarrhoea.
But the timing of the much-awaited change has been met with cynicism among the medical profession, coming immediately after the Government ended the free provision of LFT and PCR tests.
The NHS website now says symptoms now ‘can include’:
- a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your 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 your sense of smell or taste
- shortness of breath
- feeling tired or exhausted
- an aching body
- a headache
- a sore throat
- a blocked or runny nose
- loss of appetite
- feeling sick or being sick
And it adds: ‘The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.’
Previously, it had just emphasised three symptoms – a high temperature or chills; a new, continuous cough; and differences to your sense of smell or taste.
This is despite recorded daily cases of the virus being among the highest the UK has seen – causing significant GP staff sickness and related absences.
One public health professor, Dr Nisreen Alwan, was among those questioning the timing of the change.
Replies to Dr Alwan, a prominent campaigner for the Long Covid cause, were often in agreement with her.
GPs had urged the Government over a year ago to include more symptoms in the official case definition of Covid – including of a runny nose and a cold.
And last summer, Pulse revealed the Government’s lack of plans to update its official list of the symptoms – despite research showing the then-dominant variant, Delta, presented differently to what was being listed.
In September last year, Professor Tim Spector, who heads the ZOE Covid study at King’s College London, warned that the Government’s failure to update the Covid symptom list was ‘killing people’.
The Government announced last week it would stop funding the long-running symptoms study.