Is it a cold or COVID-19? An expert explains

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Research in the UK shows COVID-19 symptoms can be similar to the common cold. So how can you tell the difference? Professor Tim Spector explains the data.
COVID-19 restrictions are being eased as the northern hemisphere enters winter cold and flu season, meaning more cases of the common cold.

But research in the UK shows COVID-19 symptoms can be similar to the common cold.

So, how can you tell the difference?

Here, genetic epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector explains the latest data and what you need to know.

In February this year, as the UK was still under tight COVID-19 restrictions, cases of seasonal flu dropped to zero.

Now the country, like much of the northern hemisphere, is entering the cold and flu season with few to no COVID-19 restrictions in place - and seasonal respiratory illnesses are making a comeback.

In the week to 3 October, calls to the UK's National Health Service and GP consultations for upper and lower respiratory tract infections rose more than normal, a phenomenon that was also seen in Hong Kong in October last year, once schools and nurseries reopened.

This could be because people are no longer required to wear masks and social distance, their immune systems are also not used to the viruses - and it could put additional strain on health systems, warn doctors.

Professor Peter Openshaw, at Imperial College London, told the Guardian: "[Common colds] are bouncing back and the respiratory tract has not had enough recent experience of respiratory…
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