Doctor shares COVID symptoms to look out for this summer

Are Covid cases on the rise this summer? (Getty Images)

It's been four years since the Covid pandemic and we have to admit we hoped the whole thing was somewhat behind us.

We’ve long ditched our masks and sticking to the 2m rule, but with summer socialising ramping up, thanks to Wimbledon and the Euros, and some talk of a "summer wave", we're starting to wonder if we need to question that cough and runny nose all over again.

So what's the truth, are cases really started to go up once more, should we still be testing and what should we do if we do contract Covid this summer?

According to latest data from the UKHSA, cases are up 33.5%, while hospital admission have dropped in England.

"Similar advice applies when it comes to protecting yourself from Covid-19 in the summer months," adds Abbas Kanani, superintendent pharmacist, at Chemist Click.

"The advice is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you or your child have symptoms and either have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work, school, childcare, or do your normal activities."

In recent months, we have seen a new group of variants of Covid emerge, collectively nicknamed as FLiRT.

They are descended from the dominant JN.1 variant, which is itself a sub-variant of the Omicron strain of Covid.

"Covid-related hospital admissions have slightly increased and we’ve also noticed new subvariants of the Omicron strain emerge – namely FLiRT," explains Dr Kathryn Basford, Asda Online Doctor.

"These strains may be behind the rise in Covid cases, and may be impacted by lower immunity and less uptake in booster jabs. But with the decrease in home testing, it’s hard to be certain if cases are rising."

Will we need to go back to wearing masks? (Getty Images)
Will we need to go back to wearing masks? (Getty Images) (Getty)

As with the start of the Covid crisis, Dr Basford advises taking the usual precautions – test immediately if you suspect you have any symptoms and isolate at home if possible.

"Those who consider themselves vulnerable should speak to their GP about how best to protect themselves and if booster jabs may benefit them," she adds.

"Covid symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. However, if you find yourself struggling to breathe or feeling generally unwell, then seek medical advice immediately."

Covid precautions may look different for everyone this summer. Dr Basford says wearing face masks in public areas and on public transportation can help to reduce the spread of the virus.

"Vaccines lower the transmission rate and severity of infections, so if you’ve had a recent booster shot, it’s likely you’ll benefit from stronger immunity," she adds. "But remember to remain cautious about catching and spreading Covid, and protect yourself if you feel at risk."

Doctors advise taking precautions to protect yourself from Covid this summer. (Getty Images)
Doctors advise taking precautions to protect yourself from Covid this summer. (Getty Images) (Getty)

According to The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the symptoms behind the potential Covid summer wave are similar to previous variants.

"These include a continuous cough, high temperature, fever or chills, loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell, and shortness of breath," Dr Basford explains.

"You may also experience other symptoms, such as unexplained tiredness, a headache that is unusual or lasting longer than usual, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, or feeling sick."

According to the NHS, COVID-19 symptoms can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours

  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

  • shortness of breath

  • feeling tired or exhausted

  • an aching body

  • a headache

  • a sore throat

  • a blocked or runny nose

  • loss of appetite

  • diarrhoea

  • feeling sick or being sick

Do we still need to test for Covid? (Getty Images)
Do we still need to test for Covid? (Getty Images) (Getty)

While there is no longer mandatory Covid testing, if you are often in contact with vulnerable people, such as the elderly or autoimmune, Dr Basford says it is a good idea to test before doing so.

"If you feel yourself falling ill with any of the aforementioned symptoms, then I’d recommend completing a rapid test to see if you have Covid," she adds.

Kanani advises washing your hands regularly using soap and water or using hand sanitiser. He also recommends trying to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are unclean.

"You may want to also avoid indoor or crowded places, ventilate rooms that you are in with other people and wear a face covering in busy areas," he adds.

Read more about summer health and wellness