Symptoms of the Omicron variant of coronavirus appear to be very different from previous strains, doctors and epidemiologists believe.
Although some people are reporting mild reactions to the virus, many have noticed they are not the same as with the Alpha, Beta and Delta strains.
There were 54,661 new cases of Covid reported across the UK in the last 24 hours and 38 people died after catching the virus. There are growing fears fresh restrictions might be needed to stop Omicron from overwhelming the NHS.
The NHS website still asks anyone with the three traditional symptoms of coronavirus to get a free PCR test as soon as possible.
It lists them as:
- A high temperature
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
But early reports show Omicron has five distinct symptoms of its own.
- A scratchy throat (as opposed to a sore throat)
- A dry cough
- Extreme tiredness
- Mild muscle aches
- Night sweats
Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, who was one of the first people to suspect the Omicron Covid strain, has said she noticed patients at her private clinic showing symptoms that are different from the Delta variant.
Dr Coetzee told the AFP that she alerted health officials of a “clinical picture that doesn’t fit Delta” on 18 November when seven patients showed different symptoms that seemed “very much related to normal viral infection”.
She said her patients presented with extreme tiredness, mild muscle aches, scratchy throat and dry cough.
Unlike the previous variants, this one doesn’t cause loss of taste or smell, she added.
Night sweats – which are when you sweat so much that your night clothes and bedding are soaking wet – have also been noted by doctors in South Africa, where the variant was first discovered.
At a briefing convened by South Africa’s Department of Health, GP Unben Pillay listed the symptoms that Omicron patients were reporting.
He said one telltale sign many patients are experiencing and presenting with is “night sweats”.