Coronavirus symptoms list must expand to include loss of appetite, feeling hot and extreme tiredness, scientist warns
THE coronavirus symptoms list is “inadequate” and must be expanded to prevent the spread of the killer bug, a top scientist has warned.
Dr Nick Summerton, one of Britain’s leading primary care diagnostics, desperately wants the government’s list to be expanded to reflect the disease’s unpredictability.
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He has acted as an adviser to the government during the crisis but feels the current list does not highlight the broad variation of Covid-19 and how it affects individuals differently.
As it stands, just two symptoms – a high temperature and a dry, continuous cough – are listed on the NHS website.
But Dr Summerton feels breathlessness or feeling short of breath, loss of appetite, smell or taste, fatigue or extreme tiredness, a dry cough and feeling hot or having a temperature should be added to the list.
He now wants the government to create a symptom reference group consisting of public health experts to analyse patient’s symptoms during the pandemic, reports The Sunday Times.
We need to consider what the broader group of symptoms are and the combinations of symptoms patients have. Time is not on our side and we must get this right.
Dr Summerton, a GP, told the paper: “These two basic symptoms aren’t good enough.
“We need to consider what the broader group of symptoms are and the combinations of symptoms patients have. Time is not on our side and we must get this right.”
The US has now expanded its symptoms list from three to nine, while the World Health Organisation lists 13 symptoms.
Dr Summerton, who has a doctorate from Oxford University for clinical epidemiological research into primary care diagnostics, has been left frustrated after his warnings to government officials were ignored.
He became an adviser to the government’s testing chief, Professor John Newton, last month and raised the alarm with him three times.
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But he has not received a response and is furious because he believes adding to the symptoms list could prevent Britain from getting a “grip on the epidemic”.
This is because some Brits with coronavirus may not be self-isolating because they do not have either of the two symptoms listed by the government and could be passing the disease on.
He added: “We’ve got people who are wandering around with the coronavirus and that’s the concern.
“Those missed cases will just spread around the community. That’s why I believe these two symptoms are a dodgy foundation.
“Sorting out Covid-19 symptoms matters to patients and is the foundation for everything else we do in relation to testing and tracking.”
Public Health England said the Department of Health and Social Care made the “policy decision to go with cough of fever as the two main symptoms”.
It said Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty had the “final sign-off of the case definition”.
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