Sore throat runny nose symptoms to act on

Any cold-like symptoms have the potential to be the Omicron variant of Covid-19, but a sore throat or runny nose are two to particularly look out for, an Otago virologist says.

"There is evidence now that Omicron grows less well in deep lung cells than in upper respiratory tract cells, which explains in part why Omicron may be causing less severe symptoms than Delta," Jemma Geoghegan said.

"That might also explain the main symptoms that are being reported, a sore throat and a runny nose, rather than the coughs and fevers people were getting with Delta."

Other factors complicating a potential diagnosis of Omicron is that anyone vaccinated against Covid-19 is likely to experience milder symptoms than someone who has not been vaccinated, and also the wide variety of other complaints, such as a cold or hayfever, which could be causing the same symptoms.

Dr Geoghegan said that it was better to be safe than sorry, especially when widespread community transmission of Omicron had not yet happened in New Zealand.

"Even though there are a range of respiratory symptoms that are in wide circulation, given that there is a global pandemic and there is Omicron in the community, I would probably err on the side of getting tested if you had any Covid-like symptoms and assume it was coronavirus until proven otherwise."

It was especially important to test at the moment, as health officials would want to confirm the presence of Omicron in any so far unaffected community as early as possible, Dr Geoghegan said.

"There are a huge range of symptoms and they can vary from person to person, and lots of people are completely asymptomatic or have very mild fatigue, but a sore throat and a runny nose are the main things to be looking out for."



Covid symptoms

Common symptoms

- A new or worsening cough
- Sneezing and runny nose
- Fever
- Temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath

Less common symptoms

- Diarrhoea
- Headache
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Nausea
- Vomiting
- Chest/abdominal/joint pain
- Confusion or irritability




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