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A new symptom of the fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been revealed — and it's considerably different to those you might know from previous strains.
New data from the ZOE Study, a research programme which asks infected people to report their symptoms via an app, is showing huge changes in the tell-tale signs of the virus.
Sneezing is among the cold-like symptoms which now feature as the most common, alongside a runny nose, headache, fatigue and sore throat.
The puzzling findings have led scientists to warn that anyone who thinks they may have a cold should stay at home, as it may in fact be a Covid infection.
The new figures were collected from London where Omicron is now thought to make up the majority of cases, having overtaken the previously dominant Delta strain.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, said: “Omicron is set to be the dominant strain in the UK by Christmas, and in the New Year cases could hit a peak higher than anything we’ve ever seen before."
"As our latest data shows, Omicron symptoms are predominantly cold symptoms, runny nose, headache, sore throat and sneezing, so people should stay at home as it might well be COVID."
The professor also advised that people with vulnerable family members should cut down on their social engagements starting now and take several lateral flow tests in the days leading up to their main Christmas gathering.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association and one of the first people to suspect the Omicron Covid strain, said she noticed patients at her private clinic showing symptoms that differ from the Delta variant last month.
She said her patients presented symptoms of extreme tiredness, mild muscle aches, scratchy throat and dry cough.
Unlike the previous variants, she added, this one does not cause a loss of taste or smell.
The NHS website asks that anyone with the three traditional symptoms of coronavirus get a free PCR test as soon as possible.
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