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The UK’s official list of Covid-19 symptoms has been expanded to include nine new signs of illness.

Expanding the list of symptoms to include conditions such as sore throat, fatigue and headache could help reduce infections, an expert has said.

It comes days after the Government ended the offer of free universal Covid-19 tests, and at a time when Covid infection levels have reached an all-time high in the UK, at nearly 5 million of people estimated to be infected.

New symptoms, in addition to fever, new and persistent cough, and loss or change in taste or smell, are:

A note on the website adds: “The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.”

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States have had longer lists of symptoms for some time. But in the UK, the list had only three symptoms for almost two years.

It is understood that the Chief Government Medical Officer should have approved the expanded list of symptoms.

Last week, free universal testing for Covid-19 ended in England. While some people are still entitled to free tests in certain circumstances, the majority of people should now go without or pay for them.

Under the previous testing regime, people were only eligible for PCR tests – those carried out in the laboratory – if they had one of three main symptoms or if they had been asked to take a test.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist of the Zoe Covid-19 symptom tracking app, wrote on Twitter: “The official NHS main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) have finally changed after 2 years of lobbying and the input from Zoe app users – hooray! Shame they ordered wrong – but it’s a start and could help reduce infections. thank you ZOE loggers!”

In March, Spector strongly criticized the government’s “refusal” to recognize a wider range of symptoms. He suggested the non-recognition of the broader list of conditions that afflict people with the virus, along with the decision to drop isolation advice and withdraw free testing, could have increased transmission rates. .

Spector said in March: ‘The government’s refusal to recognize the wide range of symptoms and abandon isolation counseling and testing is likely to be behind the incredible number of cases we are seeing today. Many people no longer self-isolate when they have symptoms, either because they feel they no longer have to, or because they or their employers still don’t recognize symptoms like discharge. nasal or sore throat like Covid.

On Friday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 4.9million people in the UK were believed to have had Covid-19 in the week ending March 26, up from 4.3million the previous week . The ONS said around one in 13 people in England had the virus during this week.

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