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The Scottish Mail on Sunday - 2021-10-10

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COVID Q&A

Health

Q My lateral flow test was positive but my PCR came back negative. Should I isolate? A If you have Covid symptoms, then yes. Government guidance states that anyone who gets a positive lateral flow test should then get a PCR test to confirm whether they have the virus and should self-isolate. But last week, public health authorities said they were investigating why a ‘high number’ of lateral flows were testing positive, only for the follow-up PCR test to come back negative. While the cause is unknown, scientists have urged the public to heed the result of their initial test. Both lateral flow tests – the rapid result tests that can be done at home – and PCR tests – the gold standard used by NHS Test and Trace – are accurate at detecting the virus, but they are not perfect. Dr Meaghan Kall, a Government epidemiologist, said: ‘If you have symptoms, plus either a positive lateral flow test or PCR, you have Covid and should stay home – even if your next PCR test is negative.’ Q Is there really a super-cold going around? A To add to the confusion, it appears the UK is currently experiencing a wave of infections from the common cold that have serious Covid-like symptoms. GPs have reported a rise in severe coughs, colds and viral infections, and studies suggest the symptoms of the dominant Delta Covid variant are more like a cold than any previous version. According to Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at King’s College London, these include muscle aches, runny noses and sore throats. Many scientists predicted that common respiratory infections would bring severe symptoms this autumn and winter. Prolonged social distancing over the past 18 months during the pandemic means that people have not been exposed to viruses as they usually are, which has left their immune systems weaker. The UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) confirmed a clear rise in cold cases last week. Professor Martin Hibberd, an infectious diseases expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: ‘These things are more likely to knock you down for a while than they did before Covid.’

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