The ‘top’ three Covid symptoms that could alert you of an infection

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As Covid has been mutating since the beginning of the pandemic, new variants continue to emerge. With Omicron BF.7 taking over the spotlight in China and XBB 1.5 in the US, there are various new strains experts are keeping an eye on. Whether these sub-variants will trigger a new Covid surge in the UK is uncertain but cases are currently on the rise. Here are the top symptoms to spot.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus continued to increase in England, Wales and Scotland in the week ending on December 9.

Back in 2021 when Omicron appeared, the variant cemented itself as a strain characterised by symptoms different to the traditional three- cough, fever and loss of smell.

Currently, the “top” Covid symptoms are ranked as pharyngitis, rhinorrhoea and congestion, according to the Zoe Covid Study App, which keeps a track of dominant Covid symptoms through their app users.


Pharyngitis, better known as sore throat, describes any discomfort, pain, or scratchiness that can often make swallowing uncomfortable.

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The data from Zoe reports that this “very common” sign affected around 69 percent of their users.

What’s more, sore throat could be the first sign that rings alarm bells of a new infection.

Considered an “early” Covid symptom, sore throat tends to crop up in the first week of the illness.

While this uncomfortable sign might feel worse on the first day of illness, Covid pharyngitis tends to improve on each following day.


Rhinorrhoea, also known as runny nose, details a free discharge of thin mucus from your nose.

Zoe reports that this warning sign was seen across 83 percent of their users.

However, the study app also warns that the likelihood that your runny nose is caused by Covid depends on how prevalent the disease is at the time.

“Our data shows that when rates of COVID-19 are high, the chances that a runny nose is due to coronavirus infection is high,” Zoe writes.

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Apart from runny nose, there’s another red flag sign that can crop up in your nose – congestion.

Nasal congestion, or blocked nose, is caused by blood vessels in your nose becoming swollen with excess fluid, according to the Mayo Clinic.

This tell-tale sign is characterised by a stuffy, plugged feeling in your nose that can occur with or without discharge.

Pharyngitis, rhinorrhoea and congestion are currently considered the most prevalent Covid signs but they are not the only symptoms that can alert of an ongoing infection.

Zoe adds that other “top” coronavirus symptoms include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Cough without phlegm
  • Headache
  • Cough with phlegm
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Altered sense of smell.

The health study adds: “We used to report the top five symptoms. But over time, we’ve seen that these change frequently. 

“So, we’re now reporting the top 10 symptoms, which remain more stable.”


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