Health experts around the world are starting to take note of how the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are changing.
Officials in the United Kingdom are warning of a possible “devastating wave” of infections in the fall as symptoms of the virus could go unnoticed.
B.C. infectious disease expert Dr. Brian Conway said officials in the province are seeing the same trend.
“We’re seeing changes in the sense of taste, changes in the sense of smell early on,” he said Wednesday. “It might be a factor of different symptoms caused by the ancestral virus, compared to Omicron, different symptoms compared to people who are vaccinated versus those who are not, but it’s still a significant illness.”
Conway said people should still pay attention to symptoms like pain in their muscles, fatigue, headache and feeling generally “off.”
He said it is not the same as the common cold.
Conway added that those who are vaccinated are still seeing much milder symptoms than those who are not.
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It is now also believed that 75 per cent of Canadians have been infected with COVID, whether they knew it or not.
A report released by B.C.’s COVID Modelling Group shows Omicron is still causing the highest rates of infection.
However, due to the possibility of more mild symptoms, especially among those who are vaccinated, officials are concerned people are still spreading the virus by going out when they just feel a little under the weather.
“We have no idea how many people have COVID. None,” Conway said. “So we’re thinking that maybe 75 per cent of the Canadian population has gotten COVID. Ironically most since the era of Omicron. But we track hospitalizations, we track deaths, and once again, those numbers are not negligible. We count hospitalizations in the thousands in Canada on any given day.”
Conway suggests people, especially those in contact with seniors or other vulnerable people, should test negative three days in a row following infection and wear a mask at work for a few days to be sure they don’t transmit the virus to others.