A NEW Omicron Covid symptom could first alert you to infection as you sit down for Christmas dinner.

The super infectious strain is spreading at a rapid rate in the UK and hundreds of thousands more people will test positive over the holiday.

The good news is that a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

As the UK races to get as many jabs in arms as fast as possible, experts are learning more about the new Covid strain every day.

Experts have said it may have a different set of symptoms to the older versions of the virus.

New data from the ZOE Covid Symptom Study has shone a light on the most common signs of the Omicron strain.

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And there is a hint that some people could experience a previously lesser common problem – loss of appetite, the Mirror reported.

Losing your appetite is probably among the worst things to happen to you over Christmas when a plentiful roast is in front of you – among dozens more treats.

The study compared symptoms reported by people that had tested positive for either the Delta or Omicron variants.

Experts said: “Contributor reports also identified loss of appetite and brain fog as common symptoms.

“These findings line up with a small batch of data from contributors who reported that their positive PCR results were suspected or confirmed Omicron infections.”

The analysis found no clear differences between Delta and Omicron when it came to typical infection.

The main symptoms of the virus in both strains were estimated to be:

  1. Runny nose
  2. Headache
  3. Fatigue (mild or severe)
  4. Sneezing
  5. Sore throat

A loss of taste could also strike over the festive period, spoiling your usual indulgences.

Loss of taste (and smell) has become a well known classic sign of coronavirus – and it could last for many more weeks or months even when infection is over.

But, according to ZOE, loss of taste or smell is much less likely to strike compared to the early part of the pandemic.

The study shows that only 50 per cent of people experience the classic three symptoms of fever, cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste. 

These are the triad of symptoms listed by the NHS as indicative of Covid, and warrant a test.

But the King’s College researchers behind ZOE repeatedly call on the Government to change its guidance.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist study, said yesterday: “What continues to shock me is the misinformation in their [Government] latest stay at home guidance about the symptoms of COVID. 

“ZOE data clearly shows that the most important symptoms are no longer, a new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of taste or smell. 

“For most people, an Omicron positive case will feel much more like the common cold, starting with a sore throat, runny nose and a headache. 

“You only need to ask a friend who has recently tested positive to find this out.”

MORE MILD 

He added that while the study finds a “worrying” 144,300 people are getting infected with Covid every day, “the good news is that our preliminary data suggests that Omicron is more mild that Delta”.

It comes as UK data shows that someone with Omicron is between 31-45 per cent less likely to attend A&E and 50-70 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital than an individual with the Delta variant.

If the severity of the disease is actually “significantly lower than Delta”, then some of the impact on the NHS may be less severe, a  senior health official has said.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which conducted the study, says it offers a “glimmer of Christmas hope”.

It has fuelled speculation in Westminster that further restrictions can be avoided in England after Christmas, with New Year celebrations under threat.

The UKHSA study also showed a booster jab – taken by at least half Brits already – provides substantial protection against Omicron.

You can book your booster shot by going on the NHS website.

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