If you catch covid from today you'll have to isolate for Xmas - here are the symptoms to watch out for
Experts have said the symptoms of Omicron are 'different' from previous strains of coronavirus
With just 10 days to go until Christmas, Brits across the country are facing the prospect of having to isolate for Christmas Day if they now test positive for Covid.
If you test positive for the virus, you must self-isolate for 10 days, meaning that from today (December 15) you will have to isolate on December 25.
There are fears that up to 1 million Brits will be isolating on the big day as Omicron sweeps across the nation. Official estimates suggest that four times more people are likely to be isolating on Christmas Day than last year.
haven't cried all morning over the fact i have to isolate for a second year in a row over my very limited Christmas break
— niamh (@sIeepytea) December 15, 2021
So what are the symptoms of the Omicron variant that people should be looking out for?
Oxford professor Sir John Bell said that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is "rather different" and therefore has some unique and new symptoms.
Sir John urged people to look out for a sore throat, aching muscles particularly around the back, a stuffy nose, some stomach upset and loose stools as signs of having Omicron.
Merry Xmas to me 😭 pic.twitter.com/uNkN89WIRg
— Louise Jaunbocus-Cooper (@Louise_MixEd) December 15, 2021
He said: "One of the things we do know is the syndrome is rather different."
Sir Bell, who is a Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said that muscle pain in particular - known as myalgia - was a "distinguishing feature" of Omicron, but that it was unclear why this was.
— Shelagh Fogarty 💚 (@ShelaghFogarty) December 14, 2021
He also said that data from South Africa showed that stomach upset and "loose stools" also appeared to be an unusual symptom of Omicron.
Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, Sir Bell said: "It’s one of the most interesting features of this. It looks like it’s behaving differently."
But he said experts were still unsure about exactly how much more transmissible Omicron is compared to the Delta variant.
Yesterday was the last day you could have covid symptoms and be out of isolation by Xmas day, today I was due my booster…. So of course this happens :-( pic.twitter.com/cN0FiyRgOw
— Nigel Stoddart (@Stoddy38) December 15, 2021
He said: "We know some things about this variant and there are a lot of things we don’t know.
"We know this is a highly infectious variant, two or three times as infectious as Delta, which was a pretty infectious variant of its own.
He added: "One of the reasons it’s sweeping through the country so quickly is because it is very, very infectious."
Sir John also said that "at the moment, we don't really have the date" to determine Omicron's severity either, and that the next few weeks are crucial in working out how severe it is in the UK.
Trying to get to Christmas without having to isolate and… it got me😣 pic.twitter.com/UE6X7WYlvY
— Miss Maddison (@maddisonteacher) December 15, 2021
He said the current 'Plan B' restrictions imposed by the government are "probably the right balance of trying to slow the spread" of the virus.
He said the booster programme was the "most important thing" in tackling the new variant and that self-isolation was a "very inefficient way of stopping a pandemic."