The new Covid variant, Omicron, is spreading rapidly across the UK so it is important to look out for these signs and symptoms.

On Friday, December 10, we learnt that there had been two confirmed cases of Omicron in Wiltshire with seven 'probable' cases suspected. 

Omicron is believed to differ from other Covid variants so far in that it is more transmissible, vaccine effectiveness is 'significantly lower', and there are some distinct symptoms people have experienced.

In a report published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on December 10, they said a booster vaccine dose prevents symptoms in 75 per cent of Omicron cases. 

Being double vaccinated was also found to reduce the severity of symptoms. 

READ MORE: Two omicron cases confirmed in Wiltshire with more 'probable' cases detected

What is Omicron? 

Omicron, scientifically known as B.1.1.529 variant, is a highly mutated strain of Covid.

It has 32 mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that vaccines use to protect the immune system from Covid. 

Omicron was first spotted in Botswana, South Africa, and there are now hundreds of cases already in the UK with Sage scientists warning that restrictions need to tighten or it could cause tens of thousands of Covid deaths in England in the next five months

Although the government has only recently introduced Plan B restrictions, the Daily Mail reported officials are considering Plan C restrictions in the new year. 


What are the potential signs and symptoms of Omicron?

Although studies into Omicron are still ongoing, doctors in South Africa where the variant was first identified have highlighted a few symptoms they noticed that are different. 

Chair of the South African Medical Association Dr Angelique Coetzee, who first raised the alarm of the Omicron variant, said that her patients didn't suffer a loss of taste or smell. 

She told the Telegraph that a key symptom was strong fatigue, which she noted in otherwise healthy male patients. 

Here is a list of the symptoms that have been associated with Covid and the Omicron variant anecdotally:

  1. Moderate to severely painful headaches
  2. Scratchy throat - some cases didn't have a cough
  3. Body aches and pains - including in the shoulders and arms
  4. Tiredness and fatigue
  5. Runny nose 
  6. Sneezing
  7. Night sweats
  8. No loss of taste or smell 


What are the main Covid symptoms? 

The World Health Organisation have said so far that the symptoms of Omicron are believed to be the same as Covid. 

The NHS website lists these as the main symptoms of Covid that are officially recognised:

  1. A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  2. A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  3. A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal


If you experience any of the symptoms above, the NHS say it is important to get a PCR test, even if a lateral flow test comes back negative, and to self-isolate until you recieve your test result.

The PCR tests are free and can be ordered from:

If you are worried about symptoms or not sure what to do, you can get help from the NHS by calling 111.

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