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NHS expands Covid symptoms list to include runny nose, sore throat and headache

NHS expands Covid symptoms list to include runny nose, sore throat and headache
sick asian woman is blowing running nose and sneezing in tissue at home

The official NHS website has today been updated with nine additional Covid symptoms, including a runny nose, sore throat and headache.

But public health experts have questioned the timing of the change, which came immediately after the Government ended the universal free provision of PCR and lateral flow 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
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

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.

One public health professor, Dr Nisreen Alwan, was among those questioning the timing of the change.

She wrote on Twitter: ‘After two years of shouting from the rooftops to expand the Covid symptom list on the NHS website, it finally happens when people can no longer request a free test!’

GPs 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 a study of over a million people from February last year found symptoms including chills, loss of appetite, headache and muscle aches are ‘strongly linked’ with being infected with Covid-19, prompting researchers to call for a wider range of symptoms to be included on the list.

A version of this story was originally published on Nursing in Practice’s sister publication Pulse.

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