Covid cases highest they have EVER been in England as NHS confirms nine new symptoms

Dr Hilary Jones explains nine new symptoms of Covid

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According to the latest data from Imperial College London’s latest React-1 study, case rates in England are currently the highest they have ever been. From March 8 to March 31 6.37 percent of people had Covid compared to 4.41 percent in January. This is the highest level recorded at any point in the pandemic.

The jump in cases comes as the NHS adds nine new symptoms of Covid to its official list.

The health body originally said a high temperature or shivering (chills), a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste were the main signs of Covid.

It has now added the following to its list:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • An aching body
  • A headache
  • A sore throat
  • A blocked or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick or being sick.

“The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu,” explains the NHS.

What is driving the current wave?

Experts have suggested the current wave is being driven by two variants of Omicron – BA.1 and BA.2.

Both variants caused twin peaks in the pandemic – one in January, and another in March.

Experts from Imperial College London have warned the rise could see an increase in death and hospital admissions.

Professor Christl Donnelly, Jameel Institute, Imperial College London, and Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, said: “It’s still the case that if you see more infection, you would expect, even if it’s a very small proportion of those, to see more of the severe outcomes.”

“So we don’t yet know when we’ll see a peak in the oldest age group – the 55 plus – and because those people are at higher risk of severe outcomes, that is a particular worry.

“It is possible if the prevalence continues to go up, that you will see further increases in the severe outcome rates.”

Prof Donnelly was citing data from the latest React-1 study, which has been published as a preprint.

The study states: “We observed Omicron ‘twin peaks’ as BA.1 replaced Delta and BA.2 replaced BA.1, while at the same time, society opened up with all legal restrictions related to Covid-19 in England lifted as part of its ‘Living with Covid-19’ strategy.

“Nonetheless there are worrying signs of increasing hospitalisations and deaths due to Covid-19 in England during March 2022, which may reflect the very high and increasing rates of infection, particularly in older people.

The latest data from round 19 will be the last from the React study, which has been running since May 2020.

However, the experts warned that ongoing surveillance is needed to monitor severe outcomes from the disease and to track new variants as they emerge.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React programme, and chairman in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, Imperial College London, said: “One thing we’ve learned and is very, very clear looking at that whole pattern over the 23 months, is things go along and then something happens.

“It is really important that there is continued surveillance looking for these new variants, and I believe that will be the case.

“As part of the ongoing surveillance of Sars-CoV-2 Covid-19 there is going to be a sequencing facility looking nationally at these variants and picking them up as they appear in the population.”

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