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Runny nose is now the most common symptom of Covid (and only a fifth of sufferers lose their taste or smell)


By Emily Stearn, Health Reporter For Mailonline

15:12 25 Apr 2024, updated 15:56 25 Apr 2024



A runny nose is now the most common symptom of Covid, data shows.

More than 80 per cent of Brits suffer the sniffles when infected with the pandemic-causing virus. 

Only a fifth of sufferers lose their taste or smell – one of the original signs Brits were warned about when the virus burst onto the scene in early 2020. 

Meanwhile, a fever, another one of Covid’s classic symptoms, only strikes a quarter of people who get infected. 

ONS data on Covid infections today shows more than 80 per cent of Brits suffer a runny nose when infected. A loss of taste or smell ¿ one of the original tell-tale signs of the virus ¿ accounts for just under a fifth of all symptoms logged
More than 80 per cent of Brits suffer a runny nose when infected with the virus. Yet, a loss of taste or smell ¿ one of the original tell-tale signs ¿ accounts for just under a fifth of all symptoms logged

Symptoms were tracked from self-reported data from almost 430,000 Brits.

Covid has evolved over time to become less deadly. 

Immunity levels built-up through vaccine roll-outs and previous waves remain high, allowing society to treat it in a similar way to flu without the need for pandemic-era restrictions. 

Experts have long said Covid is ‘on the way’ to becoming seasonal, even eventually becoming just another cause of the common cold.

Other coronaviruses known to infect humans typically cause mild symptoms.

Health officials, however, still advise people with respiratory symptoms to limit their contact with vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying conditions, over fears they could get seriously unwell if infected.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released today shows almost three-quarters of Covid patients who test positive get a cough (73.8 per cent), making it the second most commonly reported symptom.

Coughs were one of the three hallmark signs of Covid listed by health chiefs during the pandemic’s darkest days. 

Tiredness, muscle aches, a sore throat and headaches were other frequently logged signs. 

According to the data released today by the Office for National Statistics ( ONS ), coughing (73.8 per cent) and tiredness (65.2 per cent) among the other key symptoms reported. Muscle aches, a sore throat and headaches were three other frequently logged signs. A loss of taste and smell accounted for 18.8 and 18.4 per cent of cases respectively

Until 2022, UK officials only accepted three symptoms as signs of the virus, despite other countries and health bodies including up to 14. 

But as new variants evolved, the official symptom list grew to include signs such as anxiety, memory loss and abdominal pain. 

Self-reported ONS data also suggests just under 2million Brits are battling lingering long Covid. 

The poorly understood condition refers to symptoms caused by Covid that persist for more than four weeks after the initial illness has cleared. 

Separate UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows there were 1,196 patients testing positive in the week ending April 10, down three per cent on the previous week. 

Latest figures for the week ending March 29 also reveal 1,164 Brits were hospitalised with the virus, up seven per cent on a week earlier. 

However, cases only reflect a fraction of the true toll.  

Officials no longer track the prevalence of the virus in the same way they used to, as part of the Government’s ushering in of pre-Covid normalities.

Brits are also no longer testing en masse like they were earlier in the pandemic. 

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