Life

Coronavirus: How to know if your symptoms are Covid-19

General viral symptoms: Occasional or continuous fever or raised temperature
Dr Nick Summerton

WORKING as a GP for the Covid Clinical Assessment Service, set up to manage patients who need to speak to a doctor after calling NHS 111, I chat to at least five patients an hour over the phone.

Based on what I am told, my advice will vary from calling an ambulance to suggesting they get tested, or stay at home and monitor themselves closely.

But symptoms are tricky blighters. They continually change and the same symptoms can be caused by different problems.

The number of symptoms being recommended to identify those with Covid-19 is growing: the list now includes, as well as a dry cough and a raised temperature (which is where we started), changes in a person’s sense of taste or smell, extreme tiredness, breathlessness, loss of appetite, sore throat, diarrhoea, muscle pain and headache.

Perhaps the best way to spot people with Covid-19 is to think about symptoms in three broad groups: general viral symptoms, symptoms linked to the virus as it enters our bodies, and symptoms from organs that it might infect.

I have found that Covid-19 is more likely if an individual has at least four new symptoms from two or more of these groups.

General viral symptoms: (Occasional or continuous) fever or raised temperature, chills with or without shaking, loss of appetite, fatigue or extreme tiredness, muscle/joint pains, headache, dizziness.

Entry symptoms: Alterations of smell or taste, soreness in the throat, sore eyes, nasal congestion or runny nose.

Organ-specific symptoms: Lungs: dry cough, mild to moderate breathlessness, heaviness on the chest. Guts: diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea.

* Dr Summerton has been a GP for 32 years and has written books focusing on diagnosis.

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