COVID-19 is a new disease caused by coronavirus, that has been infecting thousands of people around the globe.
Drastic measures have been taken to contain the spread of the disease, such as working from home where possible and avoiding places such as pubs and theatres.
The NHS also advises people to stay at home if they have symptoms of coronavirus – which are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough.
However, now US scientists have claimed there may be another telltale sign of COVID-19 we should be looking out for.
This symptom may present itself before any other flu-like symptoms.
The study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, claimed those who have coronavirus experience tummy ache before developing other symptoms.
It went on to suggest that people might experience digestive issues, such as diarrhoea, when they are infected.
The research analysed data from 204 people in China’s Hubei province, where coronavirus originated in December 2019.
It was discovered that 48.5% of the patients, who all had COVID-19, were experiencing digestive symptoms such has diarrhoea, vomiting or abdominal pain when they went to hospital.
For some of the patients, the researchers found out it was the first symptom that presented itself, before other flu-like symptoms.
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Brennan M.R. Spiegel, co-editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, said: “In this study, COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome and higher risk of mortality compared to those without digestive symptoms, emphasising the importance of including symptoms like diarrhoea to suspect COVID-19 early in the disease course before respiratory symptoms develop."
Despite this discovery, it is still worth keeping in mind COVID-19 is a disease which primarily attacks the lungs and airways.
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So it is worth keeping an eye out for the primary symptoms – a fever and a cough.
Some patients have also reported other symptoms, such as sinus pains, sore throat or a runny nose.
If you do suspect you have coronavirus, don’t go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
You need to stay home for seven days if you live alone, or if you live with others, all of you need to stay home for 14 days.
You can use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.
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