The most common Covid symptoms revealed – and it's not losing taste or smell

THE most common Covid symptoms are different from the main signs listed by the NHS, new data shows.

Experts found more people who test positive for Covid-19 in England are suffering from a cough, headache and fatigue.

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The NHS lists the main coronavirus symptoms as a high temperature, cough, and a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell.

New research from the Office for National Statistics showed that a cough remains the most common sign of Covid, affecting 24 per cent of those who test positive.

However, the second and third most common signs are not a fever or a loss of taste and smell.

Instead the ONS found that a headache affected 24 per cent of people who tested positive and fatigue was reported as a symptom by 20 per cent.

By comparison, a high temperature was the fifth most common sign – affecting almost 13 per cent with a positive test, according to the ONS.

While a loss of taste or smell affected 10.1 per cent and 10.8 per cent respectively, the research found.

Abdominal pain, diarrhoea and nausea were the least commonly reported symptoms in positive Covid-19 cases.

Other reported symptoms included muscle pain, sore throat and shortness of breath.


The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics were from between October 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021.

They also showed that 47 per cent of people in England with a positive test reported symptoms.

It means that 53 per cent of people who tested positive for Covid had no symptoms and were potentially at risk of spreading it unknowingly.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly stated that one in three people are asymptomatic – meaning they have the virus with no symptoms.

But other experts have warned that estimates of the number of people who have Covid-19 but are asymptomatic vary wildly from five to 96 per cent.

Scientists behind the ZOE Covid Symptom app found in December 25 per cent had antibodies, indicating they had been infected, but hadn’t recorded any of the three ‘classic’ symptoms of Covid-19.

They then looked more closely at the number of people with antibodies who didn’t record any symptoms at all – including symptoms such as fatigue, headache or diarrhoea – and found that number dropped to around one in five, suggesting a 20 per cent rate of asymptomatic cases.

The team, led by Professor Tim Spector, said: "Our estimate of truly asymptomatic cases is lower than many other studies because we looked at a wide range of symptoms over the entire course of infection."

It comes after the ONS found that symptoms of the new UK Covid strain differed from the original.

People suffering with the Kent mutation are more likely to get a cough, sore throat, tiredness and muscle pain, they said.

The largest change in symptoms between the two strains is people are much less likely to report high temperatures.

The study found no real difference in reports of shortness of breath or headaches from patients with either the novel strain or the mutation.


Meanwhile, a separate ONS report also released today found that the second wave of Covid deaths in the UK hit a peak in the third week of January.

A total of 1,404 deaths involving Covid-19 occurred on January 19 – the highest daily death toll in the second wave so far.

Since January 19, the daily toll – based on the latest figures – has not been above 1,300.

The totals, including January 19, are likely to be revised upwards once all remaining deaths have been registered for January.

But the overall trend in the data suggests a rise in the daily death toll through to the middle of January, peaking in the third week before starting to fall by the end of the month.

The figures, which are based on mentions of Covid-19 on death certificates, also show there were 19 consecutive days in January – from January 7 to 25 – when the daily death toll was above 1,000.

During the first wave of the virus in April 2020, there were 23 consecutive days when the death toll – based on death certificates – was above 1,000.


Deaths peaked during the first wave on April 8, when 1,457 deaths occurred.

This is currently the highest number of deaths on a single day since the pandemic began.

Overall a total of 126,023 deaths had occurred in the UK by January 29 where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the latest ONS data.

Separate figures published by the Government show that, as of February 8, 112,798 people had died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive.

Some 8,433 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending January 29 mentioned Covid on the death certificate – the second highest weekly number since the pandemic began.

The figure is up slightly from 8,422 deaths in the week to January 22.

Nearly half of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to January 29 mentioned Covid on the death certificate – the highest proportion recorded during the pandemic.

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