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Coronavirus symptoms: Researchers identify strongest sign of COVID-19 to look out for

Coronavirus can be hard to identify in mild cases. With hay fever season here and the common cold still lurking around, how can you be sure you’ve caught the disease? Scientists have found out the strongest sign of Covid-19 infection.

Scientists at King’s College London have been collating data about the nation’s symptoms via an app.

Named the Covid Symptom Tracker – still available to download now on the App Store – more than 1.8million users have signed up.

By March 29, 59 percent of users at that time (of 1.5million) who had tested positive for Covid-19 had reported loss of smell and taste.


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The team behind the app have created a model featuring a combination of symptoms. These are: loss of smell and taste, fever, persistent cough, fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

Researchers have concluded that a loss of sense of smell and taste could be the best way to predict whether or not you have a Covid-19 infection.

This is because reports of those symptoms were much stronger in predicting positive Covid-19 diagnosis than self-reported fever.

Lead researcher Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College, said: “When combined with other symptoms, people with loss of smell and taste appear to be three times more likely to have contracted Covid-19 according to our data.”


The professor then advised those suffering from symptoms to “self-isolate for seven days to reduce the spread of the disease”.

The development of the app has three aims in getting the public to document their symptoms.

As declared on the app, the first aim is to help the health services to identify how fast the virus is spreading in different areas.

The second goal is to identify high-risk areas in the UK, and the third goal is to discover who is most at risk, “by better understanding symptoms linked to underlying health conditions”.

As Britons are aware of, the NHS state symptoms of coronavirus – the ones that require self isolation – are a fever and a new, continuous cough.

The NHS defines a fever as feeling “hot to touch” on your chest or back. And a new, continuous cough means “coughing a lot for more than an hour”, or “three or more coughing episodes” in a day.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) includes tiredness as a common symptom of Covid-19.

Additionally, the WHO documents shortness of breath, aches and pains and sore throat as symptoms of the virus.


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The WHO added: “Very few people will report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.”

People presenting symptoms (cough and fever) need to self-isolate for seven days.

This means not leaving your home at all, for any reason except exercise, for seven days.

And, when out exercising you must remain two metres away from others.

The use of your own garden is permitted during self-isolation.

Anybody in your household must also self-isolate, but for 14 days. This is because the infection can take up to 14 days to reveal itself.

Self-isolation must begin the moment somebody presents symptoms of infection.

If, after seven day or 14 days, and there’s no fever, it’s OK to leave the house for food shopping, exercise and essential travel.

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  • Posted on April 2, 2020