NHS adds nine new official covid symptoms as free tests end amid travel chaos 4 months ago

NHS adds nine new official covid symptoms as free tests end amid travel chaos

easyJet cancelled 100 flights on Sunday saying it is being impacted by staff sickness

Nine new covid symptoms have officially been added by the NHS days after free testing was scrapped in England and as cases soar across the UK.


The list of new symptoms is thought to have been subtly extended on Friday afternoon - the same day that free testing came to an end for the vast majority of people in England.

Previously, only three symptoms had been listed on the NHS website - a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to the sense of smell or taste.

There's now 12, with new symptoms including a shortness of breath, feeling tired or exhausted, an aching body, a headache, a sore throat, a blocked or runny nose, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, and feeling sick or being sick.


"The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu," the NHS adds at the bottom of the list.

Covid tests will no longer be free for the vast majority of people in England (Getty) Covid tests are no longer be free for the vast majority of people in England (Getty)

On Friday, the day that free tests were scrapped, official figures showed that covid infections had hit an all-time high in England and across the UK in the most recent week of data.


Office for National Statistics (ONS), based on swabs collected from randomly selected houses, estimated that 4,122,700 people in England had the virus in the week ending March 26 - equivalent to 1 in 13 people. This was up 638,000 from the previous week when 1 in 16 people was thought to have covid.

In the same week, a record 4.9 million people were estimated to have covid across the UK, compared to 4.3 million the week before.


Wales also experienced record infection, with 1 in 14 thought to have Covid. Scotland and Northern Ireland showed slightly lower infection levels compared to recent records.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said we must "learn to live with Covid" but focus resources on "those that need it most". NHS staff, people eligible for covid drug treatments, care home residents, and people working in high-risk settings can therefore still get tests for free.

But the virus continues to have a detrimental impact on a lot of people in business and travel.


easyJet cancelled around 100 flights on Sunday, "as a result of the current high rates of covid infections across Europe" the company's statement said.

"Like all businesses, easyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness," it added.

British Airways has also blamed covid staff absences for cancellations - almost 90 flights to and from Heathrow were stopped this morning, Good Morning Britain reported.

Even those who do make it to the airport face hours of queueing. Footage showed chaos breaking out in Manchester Airport's security hall on Friday - the first day of the school Easter holidays. Passengers told the BBC they missed their flights from Manchester Airport that day, with "customers and staff in tears".

A Manchester Airport spokesperson said the whole industry is facing staff shortages and recruitment challenges at present, "after the most damaging two years in its history."

"The removal of all travel restrictions after two years, coupled with the start of the summer travel season, has seen a rapid increase in passenger numbers, which is putting an enormous strain on our operation," they added.

Around 15,000 British Airways passengers are facing disruption or cancellations at Heathrow on Monday morning, the Independent reports. BA has cancelled 90 flights at terminals 3 and 5. Some of these were cancelled weeks in advance, but for others, this happened overnight.

One passenger at Heathrow reported having their flight cancelled 10-minutes before gates were due to be announced.


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