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Signs You Have COVID as Cases Rise Again

Here’s what to expect with a new wave of COVID-19.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Just as mask restrictions and pandemic restrictions are being lifted across the U.S., new Omicron subvariant BA.2 is making its way across Europe and the U.K. "It's important to know and recognize all of the symptoms of Omicron. Symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, headache, and fatigue could be COVID," says Dr. Claire Steves from King's College London. "If you are experiencing any symptoms, get tested and isolate until you have your test result. This will help stop the spread. If you live in an area experiencing high rates of infection, consider staying home and reducing social contact. Omicron is a highly transmissible variant, so being a bit more cautious when it comes to socializing is a good idea." Especially because we "may see an uptick," says Dr. Anthony Fauci. Here are signs you might have COVID-19, if and when a new surge comes. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Stomach Issues Are a Sign of BA.2

Man hugging his belly and keeping eyes closed while lying on the couch at home

There is an uptick of people reporting gastrointestinal distress linked to COVID-19. "Thanks to millions of daily health reports from our dedicated ZOE COVID Study app contributors, we've shown from the earliest days of the pandemic that gastrointestinal (GI) problems — such as diarrhea, stomach pains, feeling sick and losing your appetite or skipping meals — can all be symptoms of COVID-19," says Professor Timothy Spector. 



Woman sitting on bed and holding head in her hands.

Headaches may be another common symptom of both Omicron and BA.2. "A runny nose and headache are symptoms of many infections, but may also be the first symptoms – and only symptoms – of Covid," says Professor Irene Petersen, professor of epidemiology and health informatics at University College London. "Therefore, if you have these symptoms, I'd encourage you to use lateral flow tests for a couple of days."


Older People May Be Affected

Sad caucasian senior woman wearing casual clothes sits on couch at home alone

As with previous variants of COVID-19, people over 45 are more likely to both be infected and experience symptoms. "The increasing presence of the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron and the recent slight increase in infections in those over 55 show that the pandemic is not over and that we can expect to see Covid circulating at high levels," says Dr. Jenny Harries, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) chief executive.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Warned of "Increase in Cases" in Next Weeks


Previous Delta Infection Won't Protect Against BA.2

Woman being sick having flu lying on sofa looking at temperature on thermometer. Sick woman lying in bed with high fever.

Health company ZOE is keeping track of BA.2 through its COVID-19 symptom tracking app. "One in 20 new cases had this variant last week, and as it's doubling every few days this should predominate within a month," says Professor Spector. "The ZOE data has also seen more confirmed reinfections in recent weeks with around 7% of new symptomatic cases having previously tested positive, suggesting a natural infection with Delta may not offer much protection."

RELATED: Habits Secretly Increasing Your Blood Clot Risk, Say Physicians


BA.2 Is Highly Transmissible But May be Not As Dangerous

Friendly nurse preps patient prior to COVID-19 vaccine shot.

 "BA.2 is also Omicron. It's a sublineage of Omicron, and it is probably the reason that we get so much protection from being previously infected with Omicron against BA.2," says CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. "What we're seeing with BA.2 is not really any more severe disease, not any more immune evasion than we saw with the original Omicron. We do see that it is a bit more transmissible—some have predicted 30%, others have predicted 80% more transmissible. We've known about BA.2 in this country since mid December, but didn't have a lot of it. And just this past week, we demonstrated that about 23% of our sequences are Omicron." People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting

RELATED: Virus Experts Issue New Warning About Omicron


How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan