Less than a third of people testing positive reported Covid symptoms, UK data shows
By Joe Gammie, PA
Less than a third of people in the UK testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms, new figures have shown.
An analysis by the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that only around 28% of people testing positive for Covid-19 reported any evidence of symptoms at the time of their swab test or at either the preceding or subsequent tests.
The remaining 72% of positive cases either did not report having any of the specific or general symptoms on the day of their positive swab test, preceding or subsequent swab tests or did not answer both questions, the ONS added.
It said that the findings, published on Tuesday, suggested that there was a “potentially large number” of asymptomatic cases of the virus.
The ONS added: “Of those who had tested positive, only 28% reported any evidence of symptoms at the time of their swab test or at either the preceding or subsequent swab test.
“The remaining 72% of positive cases either did not report having any of the specific or general symptoms on the day of their positive swab test, preceding swab test or subsequent swab test or did not answer both questions.
“This suggests there is a potentially large number of asymptomatic cases, but it is important to note that symptoms were self-reported rather than professionally diagnosed.”
The symptoms respondents were asked to report were fever, muscle ache, fatigue, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, headache, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, loss of taste or loss of smell.
But the ONS stressed that its analysis was based on 165 people in its sample who had tested positive and any false positives, people without the disease who test positive, could have an effect on the results.
The new analysis, based on data from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey, also found that people in one-person households were estimated to be around twice as likely to test positive for Covid-19 on a swab test than those in two-person households.
The ONS said that there was no evidence to suggest that those living in larger households, containing three, four or more people, were at higher or lower risk of testing positive than those living in two-person households.
It said it will investigate why one-person households might be more likely to test positive.
The ONS added: “There is some evidence to suggest that household size affects the percentage of individuals testing positive for Covid-19 on a swab test taken between June 8 and August 2 2020.
“Those in one-person households were estimated to be around 2.1 times more likely to test positive for Covid-19 on a swab test than those in two-person households.
“Recently, we have introduced new questions in the study about contacts, so we will investigate why those in one-person households might be more likely to test positive in a future article.”