Health

Coronavirus: Symptoms could show three days following an infection

The variant of coronavirus the UK is trying to live with at the moment is far different to the one that spread at pace through the country in the early part of 2020. Although the variants now in circulation cause less serious illness than before, they are far more transmissible. Furthermore, data suggests they cause symptoms to show after a shorter period of time. When the Alpha and Delta variants were dominant the WHO (World Health Organisation) said it normally took between two days to two weeks for symptoms to appear. Now, with Omicron and variants of Omicron, the data suggests this gap could be much shorter – as little as three or five days.

Speaking of the new variants, Dr Allison Arwady of the Chicago Department of Public Health said: “As we’ve seen with these new variants develop… what we’re seeing is everything gets sped up.

“It is taking less time from when someone is exposed to Covid to potentially develop an infection. It is taking less time to develop symptoms, it is taking less time that someone may be infectious.”

Furthermore, Dr Arwady said that people were overall “taking less time to recover”. The doctor added: “A lot of that is because many more people are vaccinated.”

With regards to how contagious a person is once they have the virus, it is believed this covers a window of five days.

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Researchers believe a person is at their most infectious one to two days before symptoms develop, and for the first two to three days after symptoms start.

Speaking last year, Health Secretary Sajid Javid reported: “Recent analysis from the UK Health Security Agency suggests that the window between infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the Omicron variant than the Delta variant.”

Just as the period of infectiousness has changed, so have the symptoms.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the most common symptoms of Covid-19 were a persistent cough, fever, and loss of sense of taste and smell.

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While the symptoms of Covid have changed, one thing has remained the same, the pressure on the NHS.

With restrictions lifted, the health service is seeing a new wave of patients.

Professor Chris Whitty has said the pressure on the NHS is “significant” and the resurgence of Covid shows the pandemic “is not over”.

Professor Whitty was speaking at the annual conference of the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health.

As to where the main pressure was coming from, Whitty said: “It is currently being driven by Omicron rather than new variants, but we need to keep a close eye on this because at any point new variants could emerge anywhere in the world, including the UK, as happened with the Alpha variant.”

The rise in hospitalisations comes days after the government quietly announced it was cutting funding in the Covid Zoe Study, an app which allowed people to input their symptoms.

It was thanks to this app that the government was able to keep track of Covid and remain informed on the changing nature of the symptoms it was causing.

If the government continues to cut funding into Covid surveillance, it will find it harder to spot a new variant should one arise.

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