A set of 7 symptoms, considered together, can be used to maximize detection of COVID-19 in the community.  The rapid detection of the COVID-19 infection in the community is key to ensuring efficient control of transmission. When testing capacity is limited, it is important to use tests in the most efficient way possible, including using the most informative symptoms for test allocation.

A model was developed and the 7 symptoms are:

  • loss or change of smell,
  • loss or change of taste,
  • fever, new persistent cough,
  • chills,
  • appetite loss,
  • and muscle aches.

The first 4 of those symptoms are currently used in England to determine eligibility for community PCR testing.

In order to improve PCR positivity detection rates and consequently improve control of viral transmission via isolation measures, it is recommended that all seven symptoms be used.