The most common symptom of Covid-19 is not a dry cough - what sign to look for

When the Covid-19 pandemic first began, members of the public were warned to look out for symptoms such as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and feeling breathless.

As we continued to learn more about the new virus, additional symptoms were then added to the official list, however the emphasis on a cough remained as the number one symptom to be concerned about.

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However, according to an infection survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a cough is not the most common Covid-19 symptom.

The most common Covid-19 symptom

New data from the ONS has found that a cough might not actually be the most common symptom of Covid-19.

According to the ONS, anosmia might actually be the most common symptom - anosmia is the loss of taste and/or smell.

Between 15 August and 26 october, the ONS found that the number of people who tested positive for Covid-19 with symptoms of loss of taste or smell increased the most across all age groups.

“The positivity rate for those with symptoms of loss of taste or smell has increased the most over the period in all age groups to around 35 per cent to 45 per cent,” the ONS reported.

The ONS added that people testing positive for Covid-19 are “generally more likely to have symptoms of loss of taste or smell, and fever”.

How common is a cough?

The ONS found that while the number of people who tested positive and are suffering from a cough is rising slightly, it might actually be the least common symptom.

The positivity rate for school-aged children with cough symptoms has “remained low” according to the ONS, and is currently around 5 per cent.

The rate for others aged under 35 years and those 35 years and over has steadily increased to around 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

The second most common symptom behind the loss of taste or smell was a fever, according to the data.

What do I do if I experience Covid-19 symptoms?

If you have any symptoms indicating that you might have Covid-19, you must self isolate immediately and arrange to have a test done.

Tests are free and provided by the NHS, and you can book a test via the government website.

You can only book a free NHS test if at least one of the following applies:

You have a high temperatureYou have a new, continuous coughYou’ve lost your sense of taste or smell, or it’s changedYou’ve been asked to take a test by a local councilYou’re taking part in a government pilot project

You can also book a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms.

You can arrange to either go to a test site or have a home test delivered to you.

If you’re going to a test site, you must only go to the site and straight back home to continue self isolating.

You must continue to self isolate while you’re waiting for your results - this also applies to anyone you live with, and anyone in your bubble.