Brits are warning the "worst cold ever" is sweeping across the UK and the key differences between the cold and Covid have been explained. 

Reports of a nasty illness starting in the south has now spread north with people saying it is taking days - and in some cases, weeks - to recover.

People are explaining how they have been left "floored" by the illness.

According to health professionals, the illness feels so bad because we have spent so much time social distancing throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Philippa Kaye, a London GP confirmed numbers of infectious diseases are much higher than is normal at this time of year.

She told the BBC: "We've actually been seeing a rise in the number of coughs and colds and viral infections.

"We are mixing in a way that we haven't been mixing over the past 18 months.

"During those first lockdowns, we saw numbers of other [non-Covid] infections fall. We think that that was primarily due to the restrictions on meeting up."

The three main symptons of coronavirus are a high temperature, a cough and a loss of taste and smell. 

How to know if it's a cold or Covid?

The Northern Echo: Symptoms of 'worst cold ever' and Covid are very similar. (PA)Symptoms of 'worst cold ever' and Covid are very similar. (PA)

The bottom line is – you can’t. Because while the typical symptoms of a cold are a headache, sore throat and runny nose, those symptoms are now some of the main signs of Covid too.

Christina Marriott, chief executive of  the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) ( says: “Growing evidence shows that people who’ve received two doses of the vaccine typically present with less severe symptoms, such as headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and loss of smell.

“As the flu season approaches, it’s important for people who’ve been fully vaccinated to stay vigilant for cold-like symptoms, and get tested if they’re living or working around people who are at greater risk from the disease.”

If you have any symptoms of the usual cold or flu, it is worth remembering that these can also be a sign of coronavirus infection.

If you have a continuous cough or a fever you should get a PCR test.  

ZOE, the world's largest ongoing study into the virus, said: "A negative result from a lateral flow test is not reliable enough to be sure you're definitely not infected, so if your symptoms persist it's best to get a PCR test to be sure."

How to treat the illness

NHS guidance says you should treat a cold with:

  • rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • drink plenty of water (fruit juice or squash mixed with water is okay) to avoid dehydration
  • gargle salt water to soothe a sore throat (not suitable for children)

The NHS say you should see your GP if any of the following apply to you:

  • your symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks
  • your symptoms get suddenly worse
  • your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
  • you're concerned about your child's symptoms
  • you're feeling short of breath or develop chest pain
  • you have a long-term medical condition
  • you have a weakened immune system