Fever and losing the sense of taste or smell are not among the most common symptoms of people who test positive for coronavirus, a testing survey has found.
People infected with the virus in England were more likely to feel fatigued or to develop head or muscle aches than to get the tell-tale symptoms.
But people only with those signs of illness would not be able to get a swab test under NHS Test & Trace rules.
Tests are reserved for people who have a new cough, a fever or anosmia – which is a change in, or loss of, their sense of smell or taste.
Almost half of people don’t get any symptoms at all, the Office for National Statistics said, and a maximum of one in three get the most common sign – a cough.
The Department of Health has already admitted that it only detects around 60 per cent of people with coronavirus through its testing scheme.
Experts and doctors have repeatedly called for more symptoms to be included in the list so more cases can be weeded out.
A broader definition of who is eligible for a swab might increase the positive rate but it could also lead to huge demand from people who have extremely common complaints – for example, only a tiny proportion of people with headaches are likely to have coronavirus and many more will have colds or simply be tired or dehydrated.
Office for National Statistics testing shows that fewer than half of people testing positive for coronavirus had any symptoms at all, with cough the most common at almost 30% in England
Experts and doctors have repeatedly called for more symptoms to be included in the list that make someone eligible for a swab test – which currently only includes cough, fever and lost smell or taste (pictured left, a woman swabs her own throat at a centre in West Ealing, London)
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