Coronavirus symptoms: Is a runny nose a sign? Expert reveals defining symptoms of COVID-19

Coronavirus symptoms are listed by the NHS as a high temperature – feeling hot to touch on your chest or back – and a new continuous cough – coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours. But over the last few weeks a variety of other symptoms have come to light.


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Researchers from Harvard Medical School have linked loss of smell to coronavirus, The American Academy of Ophthalmology have reported COVID-19 can cause conjunctivitis, and the World Health Organization (WHO) say one the most common symptoms of the virus is fatigue.

So what about a runny nose?

Katrina Herren, chief clinical officer at Doctorlink, said runny nose occurs in around 5 percent of people with COVID-19.

But she advised: “There is no true way to tell the difference without a laboratory test to look for the viruses that cause COVID-19 and the common cold.

“However, if you don’t have a fever or a continuous cough it’s more likely to be a common cold than COVID-19.”

Hayfever symptoms could also be mistaken for coronavirus.

Hayfever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it’s warm.

A person with hayfever may experience sneezing and coughing, a runny or blocked nose and itchy, red or watery eyes, signs which have been linked to COVID-19.

But Katrina advised: “Most people with hayfever know their symptoms well. Anyone with a fever does not have hayfever.

“Although a continuous cough can occur with hayfever if its new and you haven’t previously had it with hayfever you should self-isolate and if the symptoms are still present after seven days contact 111 for further advice.”

What to do if you think you have symptoms of coronavirus

If you think you have coronavirus symptoms you can use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do. 

If you have symptoms or live with someone who does you should not leave your home. This is called self-isolation.


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The NHS advises: “If you are self-isolating, you must not leave your home for any reason, other than to exercise once a day – but stay at least two metres (three steps) away from other people.

“You must not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home.

“And you must not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home.”

If you’re self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms you’ll need to do this for seven days.

If you live with someone who has symptoms you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started.

The NHS says this is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

There’s is currently no cure for coronavirus but health experts advise treating symptoms with rest and sleep, drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and taking paracetamol to lower your temperature. Avoid ibuprofen.

If you feel you cannot cope with symptoms or your condition gets worse you can find out what to do using the 111 coronavirus service.

If you cannot get help online, call 111.

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