The very first Omicron symptoms that will strike within 48 hours of catching it

THE countdown to Christmas is well and truly on and in the run up to the big day, many Brits are trying to avoid catching the newest Covid variant.

More Omicron cases are being reported every day, but if you catch the bug, it's likely you'll know in just 48 hours, experts have claimed.

At present, the NHS says the three main Covid symptoms to look out for include a new persistent cough, a loss of taste and smell and a high temperature.

But experts at the ZOE Symptom Track app study say most people aren't presenting with any of the classic signs.

Data from the app shows people who catch the Omicron variant usually present with symptoms within 48 hours of catching the bug.

These include a runny nose, dry/scratchy throat, headache, fatigue and sneezing.

Lower back pain, muscle aches and night sweats are also key symptoms, and the lead on the study, King's College London's Professor Tim Spector, said people need to be aware that this has turned into a more 'cold-like' illness.

Their latest analysis showed only half of the people currently suffering with Covid are experiencing the classic three symptoms listed on the NHS.

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A booster shot is the best protection against Omicron, with early data suggesting it pushes efficacy back up to 75 per cent.

Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive said: “Once again, we urge everyone who is able to get a booster jab to come forward and do so. It is the best defence we have against this highly transmissible new variant."

The Sun is also urging readers to sign up to the Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.

Looking out for cold-like symptoms could help keep you and others protected this festive season.

The ZOE experts 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."

Unben Pillay, a family doctor practising on the outskirts of Johannesburg, said that while it was still early days, “we are seeing patients present with dry cough, fever, night sweats and a lot of body pain”.

Dr Amir Khan, a British GP, described “drenching night sweats”, the kind “where you might have to get up and change your clothes”.

Anyone who feels unwell and has symptoms should get a test.

Lateral flow tests are a great way to keep everyone safe as they provide fast results.

Experts say you should be taking lateral flow tests on the day of meeting someone in order to stop the spread of the variant.

You must report all lateral flow test results to the NHS.

Guidance says if your rapid at-home test gives a positive result, you should self-isolate straight away and get a PCR test, then follow the rules based on that result.

Lateral flow tests are known to be less reliable than the gold-standard PCR tests that are looked at by scientists in a lab.

But they are still incredibly important to controlling the virus, experts say, as they give fast results to people who otherwise may never have known they were infected.

A major review found that lateral flow tests used in England were almost always correct when they produced a positive result (99 per cent).

But they were less accurate when it came to giving a negative result. 

The tests missed 60 per cent of positive cases that would have been found through a PCR, meaning many people with Covid are given what’s called a “false negative”.

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