Britons should go to work if they have a headache or feel tired – even though both are now officially recognised as Covid symptoms and the public is advised to stay at home if they have Covid symptoms – Health Secretary Sajid Javid said today. MailOnline has more.
Asked whether he would still go to work if he had a headache, Sajid Javid claimed he would “first reach for the Nurofen”. He said it would also depend “how tired I felt”.
Health chiefs last week quietly expanded the list of tell-tale signs of the virus to warn of nine other symptoms. As well warning of headaches and feeling tired, officials also now say that a blocked or runny nose, a loss of appetite and feeling or being sick can signal that someone is infected.
The decision marked a huge change in the Government’s stance on symptoms, after acknowledging only three for the entirety of the pandemic (a fever, cough and loss or change to taste or smell), despite other countries and health bodies including up to 14.
The move coincided with the vast majority of employees in England no longer being able to get any free swabs as part of Boris Johnson’s “Living With Covid” strategy. Experts warned the axing of free tests for all but the most vulnerable – coupled with the expansion of the NHS symptom list – will trigger a “free for all” on staff absences, leaving workers to decide “whether or not they stay at home and for how long”. …
The NHS notes on its website that the now 12 Covid symptoms – which also include an aching body, a sore throat and diarrhoea – are “very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu”. People experiencing these symptoms, who also have a temperature or don’t feel well enough to work, should “try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people”. They should also take “extra care” to avoid contact with anyone at higher risk from the virus.
The Health Secretary told Sky News: “There are still three major symptoms but it’s right others have been added to give people a bit more information about what may or may not be Covid.” However, just suffering from one or two of the symptoms “doesn’t in itself say that you’ve got Covid” and people should “look out for” the three main symptoms.
The problem of course is that the Government is still ‘advising’ people to take special action not to spread Covid, and many people and employers are still bending over backwards to avoid doing so. But Covid symptoms are, as the NHS now officially acknowledges, largely generic viral symptoms, so without specific tests (which were of questionable reliability in any case) the special guidance for addressing this one virus is impossible to follow.
The truth is, until the Government removes all special treatment of Covid in its guidance, all references to it being a peculiar threat, we will not be able to return to normal, and the chaos among workers and the clamour for funding for the tests that facilitate following the special guidance will continue. The Government only has itself to blame for this, because while it has withdrawn all legal and financial support for treating COVID-19 as a special threat, it has not ceased to treat it as such. The solution is simple: abolish all Covid guidance so that the disease is formally treated as one of no special social concern. But will the Government have the clear-sightedness and backbone to do what is necessary?