Delta variant: UK's actions on spread analysed by Atkins
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The Delta variant of coronavirus, first discovered in India, has overtaken the alpha variant, better known as the UK or Kent variant (B. 1.1. 7), to make it the most dominant strain circulating in the UK. It is highly transmissible, raising concerns that it will drive up hospitalisation rates, although the current vaccines appear to be breaking the link between transmission and hospitalisation. Nonetheless, experts have issued a warning about the official list of symptoms.
Experts have argued that the current list – published on the NHS website – does not reflect what is being reported and this discrepancy could be causing cases to go undetected.
The UK should follow other countries and include a broader range of symptoms that have been linked to a Covid-19 infection, according to a group of scientists, including one of the experts advising the Government on the pandemic response.
Classic symptoms of Covid-19, according to the NHS website, are a high temperature, a new continuous cough and/or a loss or change to a person’s sense of smell or taste.
But the most commonly reported symptoms by people taking part in the Office for National Statistics Covid-19 Infection Survey are cough, headache and fatigue.
The latest ONS release shows 61 percent of people who tested positive reported symptoms.
Of these, 42 percent had a cough, 39 percent reported headache and 38 percent reported fatigue, according to the ONS.
Muscle ache was reported by a quarter of people and 32 percent reported having a sore throat.
What’s more, a third reported fever and 21 percent reported loss of smell and 15 percent reported loss of taste.
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Meanwhile, a separate study – the Zoe Covid Symptom study – recently reported that a headache, sore throat and runny nose are now the most commonly reported symptoms.
Writing in the BMJ, Dr Alex Crozier and colleagues – including Professor Calum Semple who is a member of the Government scientific advisory group Sage – suggest that limiting testing to only people with fever, cough and a change in taste or smell could “miss or delay identification of many Covid cases”.
They suggest this could “hamper efforts to interrupt transmission” of the virus.
The group argued that increasing the symptom list could improve Britain’s pandemic response by expanding the criteria for self-isolation and eligibility for symptomatic testing.
They said the “narrow” case definition “limits” the early detection of contagious people, which restricts the efforts of the Test and Trace programme.
Non-traditional symptoms “often manifest earlier”, they added.
It is important to note that about one in three people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others.
This is why everyone is advised to get tested regularly.
How to respond to coronavirus symptoms
If you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, even if they’re mild, get a PCR test (test that is sent to a lab) to check if you have COVID-19 as soon as possible.
You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your childcare or support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.
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