Anyone with common cold symptoms should get tested for Covid-19, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn has said.
The Delta variant of the virus has different symptoms. Significant numbers were seeing sore throats, nasal symptoms and headaches, along with fever, cough, shortness of breath or changes in smell or taste.
“Anyone with sore throat, headache, runny nose, blocked nose or sinus should not assume it’s a regular cold. Don’t assume it is hay fever or seasonal. If it’s any way unusual for you, please isolate and get a test,” Dr Glynn said.
A recent survey of general practitioners (GPs) earlier found the most common current symptoms linked to the Covid-19 Delta variant include a sore throat, a cough, and nasal congestion, according to .
GP Buddy, an Irish online medical directory for family doctors, found a sore throat was the most commonly reported symptom by patients, in a survey of GPs it undertook last week.
Marking a change in the symptoms previously linked to Covid-19, it found that a cough was the second most common symptom, followed by nasal congestion, sinus congestion, and then a fever.
Based on responses from 114 GPs, the survey found that headaches were identified as the sixth most reported symptom followed by a runny nose, and then muscle aches and pain.
Difficulty breathing was listed as the ninth most seen symptom, followed by changes to taste or smell.
Recent research in the UK has suggested the Delta variant of Covid-19 may be presenting similar to a cold, with headaches, sore throats, and runny noses more frequently seen symptoms than before.
Current Health Service Executive (HSE) advice remains that the most common symptoms of the virus are a fever, a new cough, shortness of breath, and a loss or change in smell or taste.
The official advice states headaches, a sore throat or a runny nose can sometimes be a symptom of Covid-19.
The ZOE study in the UK, which tracks Covid-19 symptoms people self-report on an app, found an increase in the virus presenting like a cold in recent months.
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, who is leading the research, said they had noticed the changing trend around the start of May.
Speaking about the change last month, Prof Spector said it appeared Covid-19 was "acting differently", and was presenting as a bad cold in younger generations, following the spread of the Delta variant.
“Since the start of May we’ve been looking at the top symptoms in all the app users and they are not the same as they were,” he said.
“Number one symptom is headache, then followed by sore throat, running nose and fever … Number five is cough, it’s rarer,” he said.
“We don’t even see loss of smell coming into the top ten anymore, this variant seems to be working slightly differently,” Prof Spector said.
Similar to the HSE, the NHS currently lists the main symptoms of Covid-19 as a high temperature, a new cough, or a change or loss in smell or taste.
In recent weeks the Delta variant has become the dominant strain of Covid-19 in the Republic, causing concern within Government and among public health officials.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has warned the country may be on the cusp of a further wave of Covid-19 due to the new variant.
The Delta variant is more transmissible than previous strains, with other research suggesting people with just one vaccine dose may be more susceptible to infection compared to previous mutations.