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Classic COVID symptoms ‘changing’ as government urged to update list

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A leading COVID-19 symptoms researcher has called on the government to update the list of “classic” symptoms of the virus.

Professor Tim Spector, co-founder of the ZOE COVID symptom study, said recent data showed headache, runny nose, sore throat and sneezing were now the most common signs of coronavirus.

The study records the symptoms of people who have received a positive PCR test.

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Scientist Tim Spector
Image: Professor Spector says after a year and a half the symptoms list needs updating

It’s the world’s largest ongoing study into the virus with over four million people globally logging information on symptoms, testing and vaccines.

Prof Spector said a headache was topping the list of most common symptoms, with 60% of people testing positive experiencing one.

He said a runny nose and sore throat were also “going up that list” and that sneezing was now at number four, though it is often confused with hayfever.

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A persistent cough was the only original “classic” symptom to make the top five, with fever coming in at seven and loss of smell and taste at number nine.

“It is about time the government, after a year and a half, change the list of classic symptoms,” he said.

“We do need a much broader flexible approach to this as the virus changes and the populations change.”

In his 16 June update, Prof Spector also warned that the current wave of coronavirus infections “should be peaking around 10 to 14 days’ time”.

He said: “We are still seeing rates increasing, around about 15,000 cases a day is our estimate based on your reports, but the good news is that this isn’t going up as fast as it was.

“I would be predicting that this should be peaking around 10 to 14 days’ time and then start to fall, so that by four weeks we are much below the level we are now, and at something much more manageable.

“That’s if all goes well,” he added.