Covid rules are being tightened across the UK as doctors warn of a distinctive new symptom linked to the Omicron variant which appears during the night.
Doctors in South Africa, where the variant was first detected, have said patients are reporting experiencing night sweats.
Night sweats are when you sweat so much that your night clothes and bedding are left soaking wet, even though where you are sleeping is cool.
Patients have also reported symptoms that differ from the three main signs of coronavirus listed by the NHS, which include a dry, continuous cough, a high temperature, and a loss of sense of taste or smell.
Body aches and pains, fatigue, fever and a dry cough, along with night sweats, are now emerging as common signs of Omicron infection, with doctors saying the effects are milder among those who have been vaccinated.
Dr Amir Khan explained on ITV’s Lorraine that these new symptoms need to be added to the NHS website to help keep track of cases and make infections easier to detect.
He said: “The symptoms that are coming out of South Africa by the doctors that are looking after patients with Omicron show these five new symptoms.
“A scratchy throat, mild muscle aches, extreme tiredness, a dry cough and night sweats.
“Those kind of drenching night sweats where you might have to get up and change your clothes.
“And this is important. It’s important we keep on top of these symptoms, because if we’re going to keep track of Omicron here and worldwide we need to be able to test people with these symptoms.
“If they go onto the NHS website and say I’ve got night sweats and I’ve got muscle aches, they may not be able to book a PCR test.
“So we need the NHS website to keep up with these symptoms.”
NHS could be overwhelmed by Omicron
Health experts are warning that the NHS could be overwhelmed next month due to the rapid spread of Omicron.
More than 5,000 cases have been recorded in the UK so far and while symptoms have predominantly been mild so far, scientists say there are still many uncertainties over its impact.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, told MPs the Omicron coronavirus variant is “probably the most significant threat” the country has faced since the start of the pandemic, and infections are continuing to rise.
She said the “real potential risk” is whether these cases turn into severe disease, hospitalisations and deaths, but it is still “too early” to be clear on the effects.
Covid-19 measures have been tightened in response to the variant, with MPs voting in favour of Covid passes in England on Tuesday (14 December), meaning people must now show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to enter nightclubs or large venues.
Self isolation rules have also been tightened as part of efforts to minimise the spread, with people urged to stay at home and take a test if they have any symptoms, or are a contact of a positive case.
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