Covid symptoms: two signs you should ‘assume’ are coronavirus - and not just a common cold

The current wave of infections is being driven by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant

Covid infections are still rising in the UK with case numbers in England reaching their highest level for three months, figures show.

A total of 3.8 million people are estimated to have had the virus in the week to 14 July, up 7% from 3.5 million in the previous seven days, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This marks the highest estimate for total infections since mid-April, although it is still below the record high of 4.9 million seen at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March.

Professor Tim Sepctor has said it is best to assume you have Covid if you have cold-like symptoms (Composite: Mark Hall / NationalWorld)

The current wave of infections is being driven by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, which is now the dominant Covid strain in the UK.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Health Study, has warned that twice as many people currently have coronavirus compared to the common cold, and said symptoms should not be dismissed.

What symptoms should I look for?

Prof Spector said there are two symptoms in particular that people should look out for to help distinguish Covid from a cold, and one tends to be most apparent in the morning.

Writing on Twitter, he explained that people infected with coronavirus are more likely to experience fatigue, even if they got a full night’s sleep.

He said if you feel persistently tired when you wake up, despite getting plenty of rest, it is very likely you could have Covid.

Prof Spector also noted that a sore throat is more commonly reported among people with coronavirus than a common cold, and is the most reported symptom of Covid at the moment.

If you have either of these symptoms, he said you should “assume” you have the virus.

In his latest YouTube video, he underscored this advice and recommended getting tested if you experience any cold-like symptoms.

He said: “You are now twice as likely if you have any cold-like symptoms to have Covid than to have any other type of virus. And we haven’t seen this, really, ever before.

“So it’s important to realise that and assume you’ve probably got Covid. Try and get a test if you can.

“If you can’t, or as we are hearing anecdotes of people saying that their tests have been negative the first few days, probably best to assume you’ve got it and stay away from other people.

Other common symptoms to be aware of, according to the ZOE Covid Study app, include:

  • Headache 
  • Blocked nose 
  • Cough no phlegm 
  • Runny nose
  • Cough with phlegm 
  • Hoarse voice 
  • Sneezing 
  • Muscle pains/aches 
  • Dizzy light-headed 
  • Swollen neck glands 
  • Eye soreness 
  • Altered smell 
  • Chest pain tightness
  • Fever
  • Chills or shivers 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Earache 
  • Loss of smell

If you feel unwell or experience any of these symptoms, it is advised that you stay at home and avoid contact with others where possible.