COVID: Here are the most common symptoms of Omicron

There have been no restrictions in the UK for months. (PA)
There have been no restrictions in the UK for months. (PA)

The number of people catching COVID in the UK continues to rise driven by a subvariant of the Omicron strain.

The BA.4 and BA.5 variants are now the dominant strains of COVID in the UK and new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated 2.7 million people in private households had the virus last week, up 18% from 2.3 million the previous week.

This is the highest estimate since late April but is still below the record high of 4.9 million, which was reached at the end of March.

Read more: COVID surge due to 'smash UK records within a week'


But, since the start of the pandemic, COVID has changed, with the early cough, sore throat and tiredness not necessarily the same symptoms people suffer from today.

What are the symptoms of Omicron?

The ZOE COVID Study app has monitored people's symptoms through millions of volunteers since the start of the pandemic.

In June ZOE said Omicron was less severe than Delta with the average person reporting symptoms for seven days rather than nine.

They said the biggest change between variants was a huge decline in the number of people losing their sense of taste and smell.

Read more: Hospitals bring back mandatory face masks as COVID cases rocket


Most people who caught earlier variants of COVID reported losing one or both of the senses to some extent but now less than one in five do.

The two symptoms that are consistently more prevalent are a sore throat and a hoarse voice.

They also noted that due to its decreased severity the more dangerous symptoms like brain fog, eye soreness, fever, and headaches occurred much less.

They said current research points to Omicron not reaching the depths of the respiratory tract, where infection can cause more severe symptoms.

They said the most common symptoms in a fully vaccinated person are a runny nose, headache, sneezing, sore through and persistent cough.

Omicron is less severe than Delta. (PA)
Omicron is less severe than Delta. (PA)

The previous most common symptoms, like loss of smell, shortness of breath and fever had all dropped out of the top five.

Does the rise in infections matter?

Some experts argue that as long as death rates remain low and intensive care beds are not filling up at an alarming rate, then the risks of imposing stringent restrictions do not outweigh those posed by the virus

However, others are worried about the increasing number of NHS hospital admissions, the impact on health and care staff, and the risk of serious illness in the immunosuppressed.

They say that a focus on COVID protections - as opposed to restrictions - such as well-ventilated buildings should still be considered a priority.

Leading statistician Dr David Spiegelhalter said on Friday that hospital admissions were "rising steeply and they are nearly at the level of previous peaks this year."

But he added: "I think there are some indications that they may be topping off."

The NHS is still under intense pressure from the high level of COVID in society, making dealing with the backlog caused by the peak of the pandemic even harder.