Everyone in England will be able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus tests from today, the government has announced.
Anyone will be able to access lateral flow tests for themselves and their families to use twice a week, in line with clinical guidance.
Rapid tests give results in under 30 minutes and Brits are encouraged to take them as part of a regular testing system brought in to tackle the spread of Covid-19 and keep the infection rate low as the economy reopens.
In particular, they are effective in spotting people who have no symptoms but could still spread the virus.
But scientists have warned people to still be aware of the symptoms of coronavirus – as well as the less common ones – see a full list below as identified by the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app.
Tim Spector OBE, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “This week the government announced plans to make home-based lateral flow tests accessible as a tactic to catch more cases.
“According to our own data 5 in 1000 of these tests give a false positive result, so we are encouraging people to take a lateral flow test at least twice if positive and confirm it with a full NHS PCR test.
“However, people also need to know all the 20 symptoms, including sore throat, headache and fatigue, not just the classic three. So if you feel unwell with any of the symptoms of COVID, stay at home and get a test.”
The ZOE COVID Symptom Study looked at daily health reports logged by more than 4 million contributors to come up with the list of 20 different symptoms of the disease.
“Of course, having one or more of these symptoms does not mean it’s definitely due to Covid-19, as they can also occur with other illnesses,” the research says.
“However, these symptoms have been reported more often by people who have a positive test than those testing negative.”
These are the 20 symptoms listed by the ZOE COVID Symptom Study and what the study says about them:
1. High temperature (fever)
The Covid Symptom Study app found that around four in ten people reporting symptoms of Covid-19 have a high temperature (fever).
A high temperature is also one of the official NHS symptoms.
It means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
2. Chills or shivers
When it does occur, fever usually happens in the first week of illness and tends to go quite quickly.
However, some people with long-lasting symptoms (long Covid) have reported having recurring fever/chills.
3. Persistent cough
A persistent cough is widely known as one of the three ‘classic’ symptoms of Covid-19, along with fever and loss of smell.
Persistent is described as coughing many times a day, for half a day or more.
This is usually a dry cough, unless you have an underlying lung condition that normally makes you cough up phlegm or mucus.
4. Loss or change in smell (anosmia)
Some people using the app have also reported that their sense of smell didn’t go completely, but changed with Covid-19 infection so that things smelled markedly differently to before.
If you have anosmia or a change in your sense of smell, you may notice that that you can’t smell strongly scented things like coffee or flowers.
5. Loss or change in taste (dysgeusia)
You may notice that food tastes different from normal or seems tasteless (dysgeusia).
Even though headaches are a less well-known symptom of Covid-19, they are one of the earliest signs of the virus.
But the researchers say that especially as many of us are staring at screens for so long each day, although many people with Covid-19 experience headaches, most people with a headache will not have the disease.
Fatigue in coronavirus is not just being tired or sleepy.
It is described as a type of extreme tiredness or feeling ‘wiped out’ that persists despite getting a good night’s sleep.
8. Sore throat
A sore throat could also be a symptom.
9. Sudden confusion (delirium)
This especially relates to older people.
The study identified two types of delirium.
The first is hyperactive delirium, where someone abruptly changes in their character and starts acting strangely – including being agitated or distressed, or even aggressive.
The second type is hypoactive delirium where people become withdrawn and less responsive or engaged in what’s going on around them, and sometimes drowsy.
10. Skin rash
Covid rashes are usually itchy and this may lead to poor sleep.
11. Changes in the mouth or tongue
People have been reporting that their tongue doesn’t look normal, particularly that it is white and patchy.
12. Red and sore fingers and toes
Fingers and toes can be sore but not itchy.
For example, people could find it painful when typing on a keyboard or walking.
13. Shortness of breath
Covid-related shortness of breath makes you feel like you need to catch your breath when doing simple tasks such as getting up, walking to a different room or using the bathroom.
You should also look out for having to take extra breaths mid-sentence or during a normal conversation.
14. Chest pains
A small proportion of people with coronavirus can experience chest pains, which can be brought on by breathing deeply, coughing or sneezing.
This is thought to be caused by the virus affecting their muscles and lungs.
15. Muscle pains
People using the app have reported feeling muscle aches and pains, particularly in their shoulders or legs.
16. Hoarse voice
A hoarse voice isn’t a very common symptom but at the start of the pandemic lots of clinical staff reported experiencing a hoarse voice during their illness.
Even though diarrhoea is a less well-known symptom of coronavirus, it can affect people during their illness.
18. Skipping meals
Even though loss of appetite is a less well-known symptom, data from the app shows that one in three people with Covid experience this.
19. Abdominal pains
This is a rare symptom and is a generalised pain around the middle of your belly.
20. Runny nose
This has been identified by the app as a possible symptom.