Omicron symptoms: two signs of Covid variant that can’t be mistaken for a common cold

Many of the symptoms linked to the Omicron Covid variant are very similar to a common cold

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Symptoms of the Omicron variant have been found to be more wide ranging that previous Covid strains and have been likened to the common cold.

The NHS still advises people to look for the ‘classic three’ signs of coronavirus infection, which include a high temperature, a new continous cough, and a loss or change to sense of smell or taste.

However, those who are infection with Omicron have reported experience a more diverse array of symptoms.

(Composit: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)(Composit: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)
(Composit: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)

As more cases of the Omicron variant have emerged, it has become evident that this particular strain causes symptoms which can easily be mistaken for a cold.

A runny nose, headache, sore throat and sneezing are among the most commonly reported effects, which can spotting infection from Covid more difficult.

But there are a couple of telltale signs linked to the variant that do not affect your head, nose or throat at all.

What are the symptoms?

Data from the ZOE Covid study app has identified two signs of Omicron infection that affect the body in a different way to other common symptoms.

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, explained that many people have reported feeling nauseous in the early stages of infection.

In a YouTube video, he said this symptom is proving to be common among people who have been double vaccinated and boosted, although the effects are generally mild.

Another symptom that cannot be confused with a cold is lower back pain, with data on the variant from the UK, US and South Africa - where the mutation was first identified - suggests that this is also one of the earliest warning signs of Omicron.

Lower back pain may then develop into muscle aches throughout the body, with many people reporting experiencing body pains after infection.

What are the main signs of Omicron I need to know?

The ZOE Covid study app lists the follow symptoms as the main signs of Omicron infection:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Persistent cough
  • Sore throat

Other signs can also include night sweats, fatigue, body aches and pains, dizziness and nausea.

Prof Spector warned that people need to be aware of these symptoms as most people will not get a fever, or loss of taste or smell unlike with previous coronavirus strains.

However, the government is yet to update its official symptoms list to reflect this and has not changed this list since spring in 2020.

Prof Spector said: “A lot of the Omicron symptoms, the majority of them are looking like the common cold or some other viral illness, without any of the classic symptoms.

“So do be aware of the main ones which we’ll keep you updated on. Unfortunately the government hasn’t yet taken this on board and are one of the only government’s in the world not to tell its citizens what the symptoms are.

“But they are runny nose, headache, sneezing, persistent cough and sore throat.

“They are the top five at the moment, so do keep an eye out for them and try not to infect anyone else.”

Has the Omicron wave peaked?

Scientists have said the Omicron wave has now peaked in the UK now, but infections have been rising again across the country.

The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, dubbed ‘Stealth Omicron’, is thought to have fuelled the current high rates, along with increased social mixing in recent weeks and the waning effectiveness of the booster vaccine.

Stealth Omicron has a faster rate of transmission than the original Omicron variant and is around 1.4 times more infectious. It now accounts for the majority of infections across the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), but it is not thought to cause more severe illness.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against likening coronavirus to the flu and said governments around the world should not suggest to people that “the virus has suddenly got incredibly weak”.

Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for Covid-19, said: “What people are seeing from around the world and reporting to the WHO is this is still a very, very dangerous virus, especially for people who have not been vaccinated and who’ve not been exposed to it before.

“It can also mutate and form variants and we’ve seen several but we know there are more not far away.

“So quite honestly, we are not saying that this should be considered to be like flu or indeed like anything else.

“It’s a new virus, and we must go on treating it as though it is full of surprises, very nasty and rather cunning.”

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