How many Britons recognise the new COVID-19 symptoms?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
May 05, 2022, 8:54 AM GMT+0

Fewer than half recognise some of the newly identified signs of infection like nausea, appetite loss, and diarrhoea

In April, the UK’s Health Security Agency updated its guidance to include several new signs of COVID-19 infection. Among others, aches, shortness of breath, and diarrhoea have been added to the list alongside the longstanding original symptoms of fever, a new persistent cough, and changes in smell and taste.

However, with the pandemic far from over, how many Britons know these new symptoms are associated with COVID-19?

Close to nine in ten (87%) correctly identify exhaustion or excessive tiredness as a symptom, as do 84% who rightly say shortness of breath is a symptom. Another 78% are right in thinking aches and sore throats are now symptoms of COVID-19.

A further 75% correctly say headaches are among the warning signs of a COVID-19 infection. Around two thirds (66%) also accurately answer that a runny nose is a symptom.

Three other symptoms from the updated guidance are not as well known by Britons. These include feeling sick or being sick, which is only recognised as a symptom by 46% of people, and loss of appetite (45%). The least well-recognised of the newly added symptoms is diarrhoea, which only 39% of people know is a sign of COVID-19.

Unsurprisingly, and perhaps reassuringly, the vast majority of Britons correctly say that loss of taste or smell (92%) and a new cough (91%) are COVID-19 symptoms. Slightly fewer know that fever is also a symptom (84%).

As well as the new symptoms, Britons are also generally able to identify which symptoms are not associated with COVID-19. However, 29% of people incorrectly think that poor sleep is a COVID symptom, versus 37% who rightly say it is not. While responses for other symptoms tend to be the same across age groups, those aged 18 to 24 are more likely to mistakenly pick poor sleep as a COVID-19 symptom (40%) compared to between 26-29% among other age groups.  

Around half correctly say that increased thirst (51%), blurred vision (52%), and numbness (51%) are not currently symptoms of COVID-19. Six in ten (61%) also correctly say that constipation is not a symptom, as do three quarters who say the same of increasing appetite (75%).

See full results here

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