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Fatigue and shortness of breath common Covid-19 symptoms, WHO says

The World Health Organisation’s most common symptom list has more ailments than the NHS list.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation (Martial Trezzini/Keystone/AP)

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation (Martial Trezzini/Keystone/AP)

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation (Martial Trezzini/Keystone/AP)

The list of common symptoms of Covid-19 could be more extensive than fever, cough or anosmia, global health leaders have suggested.

The World Health Organisation said that the most common symptoms of the disease are “fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath feeling generally unwell and some aches and pains”.

Other symptoms linked to the virus include headache and a loss of taste or smell, it added.

And gastrointestinal issues including nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea appear to be affecting 3-5% of patients, it added.

On Monday, the UK chief medical officers updated the list of key symptoms for Covid-19.

Officials said that as well as a fever and a new continuous cough, anyone who develops a loss of taste or smell should also self-isolate for seven days.

And those who live with them should isolate for 14 days.

WHO said that its Covid-19 clinical network – a group of specialists treating patients on the ground throughout the world – will be shortly updating its clinical guidance, hopefully by the end of the week.

At present, the most common symptoms listed on the WHO’s website include: fever; dry cough and tiredness.

Less common symptoms listed include: aches and pains; sore throat; diarrhoea; conjunctivitis; headache; loss of taste or smell; a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.

But during the tri-weekly press briefing in Geneva, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said: “This is still a virus that we’re learning about, and we’re learning every day about this virus.

“We have our clinical network – a global group of medical professionals that are dealing with patients directly [who have] first-hand knowledge of dealing with patients.

“And this clinical network was set up in early January, specifically to put people in touch with one another, just say ‘what are you seeing?’ ‘What are the patients presenting with? ‘How are they progressing to severe disease or not?’.

“They’re having these teleconferences at least once a week.

“And we will have new clinical guidance -an update to our clinical guidance – which will come out hopefully by Friday of this week, in the coming days.

“The most common symptoms of people with Covid-19 are fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, feeling generally unwell – some aches and pains.

“But we do have some non-specific symptoms that people have reported including headache.

“Some of them have gastrointestinal symptoms – between 3- 5% of patients have reported some kind of either nausea or vomiting or diarrhoea. So it seems to be rare.

“And we do have individuals who have reported loss of taste and loss of smell.”

It comes as WHO received the highest number of cases in just one day.

It said that over the last 24 hours it received reports of 106,000 cases of Covid-19.

WHO officials were also probed about the political fallout from the virus, particularly about criticism coming from the United States.

They said that they were “looking into” the letter written to them by the US president.

After being pro bed about threats from the US to cuts to funding, the WHO’s director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that its budget was “very small”, “equivalent to an annual budget of a medium hospital in a developed country”.

Earlier this week, officials confirmed they would launch a review into the pandemic response “at an appropriate time”.

Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies programme said: “I for one would prefer right now to get on with doing the job of emergency response, to epidemic control, of developing and distributing vaccines, of improving our surveillance, and saving lives and then distributing essential PPE to workers and finding medical oxygen for people in fragile settings, in reducing the impact of this disease in refugees and migrants.

“And when the time is right, the director general will, in consultation with the Member States, carry out the appropriate evaluations and reviews.”

Dr Tedros pointing to an interim review which has already taken place, adding: “The most important thing now is fighting the fire, saving lives”.

PA