More than HALF of people who test positive for Covid have no symptoms

More than HALF of people who test positive for Covid have no symptoms – but fatigue is still most common sign, official data shows

  • Office for National Statistics found 53 per cent suffered no symptoms
  • Fatigue, headache and cough were the most common warning signs, they said
  • NHS only lists a temperature, cough and loss of taste and smell as infection signs

More than half of people who test positive for Covid in the UK suffer no symptoms, official figures revealed today.

Office for National Statistics data showed 53 per cent of those diagnosed with the virus said they had no warning signs — including a fever or cough. 

The survey — which looked at 10,261 people across the UK between December and March — suggested asymptomatic transmission is more common than previously feared.   

Experts have previously said they believe symptomless people account for a third of all new infections.

But among those that did have symptoms, the ONS found fatigue was the most commonly reported symptom, followed by a headache and a cough.

The NHS only lists a temperature, new continuous cough and loss of taste and smell as tell-tale signs of the virus. 

Yet fewer than a fifth (18 per cent) of people reported a loss or taste of smell as their only symptom.

Health chiefs have been repeatedly criticised for not including the wide-range of side effects which have been linked to the disease.  

Sarah Crofts, senior statistician for the ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey said: ‘Our analysis today highlights the range of symptoms people can experience with Covid-19.’ 

She said: ‘The classic symptoms of fatigue, headache and cough are still the most commonly reported by those infected with the virus, while only around 1 in 5 experience loss of taste or smell only.

‘Around half of those we tested did not report any symptoms even whilst having high levels of the virus present in their body. This underlines that people in the community may unknowingly have the virus and potentially transmit it to others.

‘It is vital we continue to measure infection levels in the population and collect information on symptoms so we can identify any changes that may otherwise go undetected.’

The strength of the test was measured by a cycle threshold (Ct) value and the lower the Ct value, the higher the viral load and stronger the positive test, the ONS said.

Symptoms from people who tested positive for Covid with a strong positive test were reported between December 1 last year and March 22. 

All figures are for people in private households and excludes cases in hospitals, care homes and other institutional settings.

It comes as professor Tim Spector an epidemiologist at King’s College London, today warned people to be aware of all 20 Covid symptoms and to get tested and stay at home if they experience any of them.

He said: ‘This week the government announced plans to make home-based lateral flow tests accessible as a tactic to catch more cases. 

‘According to our own data, five in 1000 of these tests give a false positive result, so we are encouraging people to take a lateral flow test at least twice if positive and confirm it with a full NHS PCR test.

‘However, people also need to know all the 20 symptoms, including sore throat, headache and fatigue, not just the classic three. So if you feel unwell with any of the symptoms of Covid, stay at home and get a test.’

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Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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