The 'surprising' Omicron variant symptom that can appear when eating

As the Omicron variant of Covid continues to spread across the UK, you may be wondering if the symptoms differ from other strains of the virus (Photo: Shutterstock)
As the Omicron variant of Covid continues to spread across the UK, you may be wondering if the symptoms differ from other strains of the virus (Photo: Shutterstock)

As the Omicron variant of Covid continues to spread across the UK, you may be wondering if the symptoms differ from other strains of the virus.

But what are the symptoms of Omicron and is lack of appetite a sign?

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Here’s what you need to know.

Is lack of appetite a sign of Omicron?

Using the most recent data from London, where Omicron prevalence is higher than other regions of the UK, data scientists from the ZOE Covid Symptom Study analyzed symptom data from positive cases recorded in the ZOE Covid Study and compared with data from early October, when Delta was dominant.

This analysis found no clear difference in the symptom profile of Delta and Omicron, with only 50% of people experiencing the classic three symptoms of fever, cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste.

The top 5 symptoms in both periods were:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (mild or severe)
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

However, contributor reports also identified loss of appetite and brain fog as common symptoms.

These findings line up with a small batch of data from contributors who reported that their positive PCR results were suspected or confirmed Omicron infections.

The ZOE study said: “This may come as a surprise to some, as the UK government never updated guidance on Covid symptoms beyond the classic three symptoms. Many months ago, the ZOE Covid Study helped to identify over 20, mostly mild, cold-like symptoms.”

“Every report in the app builds on this data and we will be conducting more research into the symptom profile of Omicron in the coming weeks,” the study added.

The UK’s coronavirus dashboard shows that 93,045 people tested positive for Covid on 17 December, with 477,229 over the last seven days. This is an increase of 132,836 (38.6%) from the previous seven days.

What do I need to do if I have been in close contact with someone who has Covid?

Rules for people who have been in close contact with those with Covid vary depending on where you live in the UK.

Double-jabbed people in England who are close contacts of those who have tested positive for Covid are now being asked to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days - or 10 days since their last contact with the person who tested positive for Covid-19 if this is earlier - regardless of the strain.

However, unvaccinated adults must self-isolate for 10 days if they are a contact of someone who tests positive for Covid, regardless of strain, unless they are eligible for an existing workplace daily contact testing.

In Scotland, people who have come into contact with Omicron cases have to go into self-isolation for 10 days, regardless of their age or vaccination status.

Household contacts of all Covid cases now have to isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status and even if they initially get a negative PCR test.

As a close contact of someone who is not in your household, you can end self-isolation if you:

  • are fully vaccinated - this means you’ve received two doses from the NHS and have had your second dose more than 14 days ago,
  • receive a negative PCR test result, and
  • do not have, or develop symptoms

In Wales, you have to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact of a suspected Omicron Covid case.

Contact tracers will tell you if this is the case and you'll be asked to take a PCR test on days two and eight of isolation.

You'll also be asked to self-isolate and get PCR-tested if someone from your household shows Covid symptoms or tests positive.

If it's not an Omicron case and you test negative, you can then end self-isolation but are advised to avoid contact with vulnerable people in the short term.

Other contacts of non-Omicron cases are asked to take PCR tests on days two and eight.

In Northern Ireland, if you are fully vaccinated or you have taken part in an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial, you should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test as soon as possible.

If the PCR test is negative, isolation can stop but you should take a daily lateral flow test every day after the negative PCR result until the tenth day after your last date of contact with the positive case. The lateral flow should ideally be taken before you leave the house for the first time each day.

If you develop symptoms, you should isolate immediately and book a PCR even if the lateral flow test is negative.

If any lateral flow test is positive you should isolate immediately and book a PCR test.