The official government advice on the symptoms of Covid-19 has not been updated since the Delta variant became the dominant strain in the UK in June this year.
The main symptoms are now headaches, runny noses, sore throats and sneezing, according to epidemiologist and founder of the ZOE Covid symptom app, Tim Spector.
Delta, a more infectious variant, has caused spikes in positive cases around the world. It began to take off in Britain around May, yet the UK government’s online advice is still based on the Alpha variant which was identified in December 2020.
Spector blames the government for not informing the public about these new symptoms, which has triggered the high number of infections the UK is still experiencing.
This week, he said: “The UK still has more cases than most of Europe and I believe this is for two main reasons; the first is a lack of masks and social distancing and the second is because we’re ignorant of the symptoms.
“We should be looking out for things like sore throat, running nose and sneezing.
“The classic three – cough, fever and anosmia [loss of taste or smell] are rarer these days, yet the government has done nothing.
“By not updating advice, we’re letting people into care homes, schools, workplaces and large gatherings displaying known signs of Covid.
“One in 95 people in the UK have Covid.
“If you don’t wake up to the fact these cold-like symptoms could be Covid, we will continue to keep numbers high, putting unnecessary strain on an exhausted NHS and letting more than 170 people died every day.”
The gov.uk website claims the “most important symptoms of Covid-19” are recent onset of a new continuous cough, a high temperature or the loss of, or a change in, your normal sense of taste or smell.
The NHS website has a similar message.
In August, data from England found people who contracted the Delta variant are twice as likely to be hospitalised compared to the Alpha variant.
According to the BBC, Delta cases account for almost all positive UK results.
While Covid vaccines are still effective against Delta, emerging data suggests the variant remains highly transmissible among vaccinated people.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.