THE latest Covid wave is starting to ease as cases and deaths fall – but over a million Brits are still infected.
And as we head into winter, it can be hard to know if your sniffles are Covid, a cold or flu.
Chances are you’ve already had Covid, and think you know the symptoms.
But, over time the most common signs have changed – depending on which strains are the most dominant.
Currently, around one in 35 people in England have the bug – that’s around 1.9million, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published on Friday.
While that’s a drop of nine per cent in the last week, down from one in 30 people, many are still contracting the bug.
One in 40 people in Wales have it, one in 30 in Northern Ireland and one in 35 in Scotland.
So, what are the most common symptoms right now?
The most recent data from the Zoe Symptom Tracker app, which asks users to input their current symptoms and test results, reveals the most common 20 signs to watch out for:
- Sore throatÂ – 62.16 per cent
- Blocked nose – 53.77 per cent
- HeadacheÂ – 53.35 per cent
- Cough no phlegm – 52.66 per cent
- Runny noseÂ – 52.4 per cent
- Sneezing – 47.81 per cent
- Cough with phlegm – 43.11 per cent
- Hoarse voice – 42.53 per cent
- Muscle pain aches – 27.07 per cent
- Fatigue – 21.9 per cent
- Dizzy light headed – 20.53 per cent
- Altered smell – 20.05 per cent
- Swollen neck glands -18.36 per cent
- Eye soreness – 16.73 per cent
- Chest pain tightness – 15.62 per cent
- Shortness of breath – 15.25 per cent
- Loss of smellÂ – 15.04 per cent
- Earache – 14.14 per cent
- Chills or shivers – 13.03 per cent
- Joint pain shoulders – 10.04 per cent
As testing is no longer free, it can be difficult to know whether or not you have the bug.
So if you have a sore throat, there’s a high chance it could be Covid – but it could also just be a sore throat, which is usually caused by viruses like cold or flu, or because of smoking.
Since the Omicron wave took hold in the UK last year, the majority of people who get the bug are experiencing common cold-like signs.
A mammoth NHS vaccine rollout programme has helped stem the spread of Covid – helping to build immunity in the population.
DEATHS FALL IN CURRENT WAVE
As cases have fallen in the last week, data from the ONS published today also revealed that deaths from the bug have dropped by five per cent.
In the week ending October 28, 651 deaths were registered in England and Wales with Covid mentioned on the death certificate.
This is a decrease from the week ending October 21, when 687 were recorded.
With one in 35 now having the bug, one expert warned that people need to once again start to take precautions.
Professor Denis Kinane, immunologist and Founding Scientist, Cignpost Diagnostics, said this includes using facemasks and avoiding crowded indoor events.
He added: “As long as a portion of the population remains unvaccinated, the virus will continue to mutate, and we could see newer and more potent strains emerge.
“The ending of universal free testing and the lack of a baseline surveillance system at our borders has severely reduced the UK’s capability to identify, analyse, and stem the spread of future variants.
“This has inevitably deterred many from getting tested, and it is likely we will see infections spread rapidly as people will not be aware that there are infected.”
‘NOT OVER YET’
It comes as Covid strains dubbed the ‘grandchild of Omicron’ are spreading in Australia, China and across Europe.
Infectious disease physician Dr Paul Griffin said there were several subvariants he was “watching closely” – including two offshoots known as XBB and BQ.1.
He told Aussie morning news show Sunrise: “Some have described it as a âvariant soupâ, because there are so many new ones at the moment.
“Perhaps the two most concerning are BQ, which is an offshoot of BA.5, which has been detected mainly in Europe and the US, and around 10 per cent of cases globally.
“And the other is XBB which has been causing problems in Singapore and India.”
BA.5 is a subvariant of extremely infectious Omicron that swept across the world last winter and is believed to be the source of other mutations like BF.7 and BA.5.1.7 currently hitting China.
Dr Griffin said the variants looked “a bit” more infectious than previous strains.
“They may also be better at evading our immune response both from past infection and from vaccination, so it certainly highlights that the pandemic is not over,” he warned.
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