Omicron: Dr Tony Hinton says ‘we have to live with it like a flu’
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Experts have identified far more symptoms of coronavirus than the official three listed by the NHS. As we learn more about Omicron, studies have started to identify the key symptoms of this variant and suggest the incubation period for the virus. Here’s what we know so far.
Omicron has sent waves of panic through the country as it became clear the latest mutation of the coronavirus was incredibly transmissible.
The most recent data from the UK Government dated December 31 reported just under 250,000 confirmed Omicron cases in the UK.
The first case of Omicron in the UK was recorded on November 27, meaning in just one month, cases spiralled from single digits to a quarter of a million.
The symptoms of Omicron seem to be milder on the whole than other strains of coronavirus, particularly for those who have been vaccinated.
That said, people can still become very ill and, in some cases, have died after contracting Omicron.
Despite the official symptoms from the Government and the NHS remaining the same three they have been for the duration of the Covid pandemic, data is showing Omicron has more symptoms and often more varied ones.
The official three symptoms of Covid according to the NHS are a new and continuous cough, a fever and a loss of taste and smell.
However, many people don’t experience any of those three symptoms at all.
Many people have compared Omicron’s symptoms to a common cold, with a scratchy throat and runny nose appearing amongst the most common symptoms.
Experts across the globe have identified eight warning signs of Omicron and warned these are most likely to come on in the early stages of the illness.
The eight early warning symptoms of Omicron according to data from the UK, US and South Africa are:
- Scratchy throat
- Lower back pain
- Runny nose/congestion
- Night sweats
- Body aches
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These symptoms may appear as early as two days after being exposed to someone who has Omicron.
However, symptoms can take longer to appear, even up to 14 days after exposure, which is why if you’ve been exposed to the virus, you should either continue to test regularly (every day) or self-isolate for 10 days.
Ryan Roach, CEO of South African health insurer Discovery Health, commented anecdotal evidence suggests Omicron symptoms seem to come on within three days.
People with a mild case of Covid are usually unwell for about a fortnight, and of course, have to self-isolate for 10 days after testing positive.
However, many people are suffering from long covid, where unpleasant symptoms last for months.
Data from the ZOE Covid study predicted in December, 1,418 people a day would go on to experience symptoms for longer than 12 weeks.
As cases have risen since then, the number of people likely to develop long covid will be higher.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, said: “As our latest data shows, Omicron symptoms are predominantly cold symptoms, runny nose, headache, sore throat and sneezing, so people should stay at home as it might well be COVID.”
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