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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Know the differences between Covid-19 and cold symptoms

As we begin to live with Covid-19, it is important to know the differences between Covid-19 and cold symptoms.

Before the pandemic, most people with the sniffles and a headache would either retreat to bed with a hot cup of tea for the day to rest or get on with work and family life as normal.

However, living in unprecedented times, the first sense of a blocked nose or tickly throat is cause for concern. Now that free testing has ended for most people in England as we learn ‘Live with Covid’, knowing whether you have Covid-19, or the flu can be difficult.

Scientists from Imperial College London have found that Covid-19 infection has reached an all-time high in the UK, with 1 in 16 people testing positive for the virus between 8 and 31 March, around 6.37% of the population.

Headaches are now a recognised symptom of Covid-19 in the UK. Image: Usman Yousaf.

This is more than double the previous study’s finding when 1 out of 35 people in the UK tested positive for the virus, and 40% higher than the first Omicron peak in January.

As free testing has ended, the true number of Covid-19 cases in Bradford is unknown, but 1975 people in the district have reporting testing positive for the virus to the NHS in the past seven days, bringing the total number of known cases to 169,436.

At the beginning of the week, the Department for Health (DfH) acknowledged that symptoms of Covid-19, the flu, and the cold may be similar as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) updated the official Covid-19 symptoms to include nine other signs.

The NHS has cautioned that many of the symptoms of the virus are similar to those of colds and flu. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Zoe Covid-19 tracker app have long recognised the “new” symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of Covid-19 from the UKHSA:

The original signs of Covid-19 recognised by the UKHSA were:

  • Fever
  • New continuous cough
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste

Now the list of symptoms includes a further nine:

  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • aching body
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

Signs and symptoms of the common cold from the UKHSA:

Signs of a cold include:

  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Coughs
  • Sneezing
  • Raised temperature
  • Pressure in your ears and face
  • Loss of taste and smell

How to tell the difference between the two?

As the official symptoms are so similar now, it is hard to differentiate between the common cold and Covid-19.

The Zoe Covid study says: “Many of the symptoms of Covid-19 are now the same as a regular cold, especially for people who have received two doses of the vaccine, making it hard to tell the difference.”

The key differences between Covid-19 and a cold are that people positive for the coronavirus can experience extreme tiredness, feeling sick and diarrhoea.

However, colds can also make you feel tired and the other two are among the less common Covid-19 symptoms.

Lateral flow tests are now available to purchase from stores.

If you are unsure whether you have Covid-19 or a cold the best thing to do is to get tested. You can order tests online or pick them up from a local pharmacy, including chains such as Boots, Lloyds, and Superdrug. Tesco has also started selling tests.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advises members of the public to check if their self-testing kit has a CE, CE UKNI or UKCA mark and a four-digit identifier number for the approved body of the packaging to make sure the kit meets British standards.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our plan to tackle Covid-19, we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus. We have made huge progress due to the success of our world-leading vaccination programme, access to antivirals for vulnerable people and increased scientific and public understanding of how to manage risk.

“Despite high infection rates, the population now has much stronger protection against Covid-19 than at any other point in the pandemic.

“Vaccines remain our best defence and we are now offering spring boosters to the elderly, care home residents and the most vulnerable – so please come forward to protect yourself, your family, and your community, and continue to follow public health guidance if you test positive.”



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