GPs have called for the Government to include more symptoms in the official case definition of Covid, including a runny nose and a cold.
The symptoms, with the technical term coryza, should be added to the list of symptoms that prompt people to get a Covid test, they said.
Currently, Covid tests are available for those who have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or have lost or noticed a change in their sense of smell or taste.
In an open letter to the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, primary care academic Dr Alex Sohal said it is ‘vital’ to include runny nose and cold in the UK’s testing criteria in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance.
The letter, published by the BMJ today and supported by 140 east London general practitioners, said patients with mild symptoms such as a blocked nose, sore throat and headache ‘regularly’ turn out to be Covid positive.
Dr Sohal, Tower Hamlets GP and honorary clinical senior lecturer in primary care at Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘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.’
She added that GPs ‘have to advise patients to be dishonest to get a Covid-19 test’.
The letter said: ‘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.
‘This will help to get—and keep—us out of this indefinite lockdown, as Covid-19 becomes increasingly endemic globally. Ignoring this will be at our peril.’
The WHO’s case definition of ‘suspected’ Covid cases includes symptoms such as fatigue, headache, runny nose, difficulty breathing, diarrhoea and vomiting.
It comes as a recent report has shown that cough, fatigue, sore throat and muscle pain may be more common in those testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, a study revealed in September that just 18% of patients self-isolate with Covid symptoms.
Evidence for other Covid symptoms – such as Covid-related skin conditions – have also emerged.