Rachel Fenton has revealed that she’s been diagnosed with COVID-19, with her main symptoms not officially being listed as red flags by the NHS.
The 27-year-old Love Island star, who works as an orthopaedic clinical nurse specialist, revealed that she took the test after losing the ability to taste and smell, while a cough and high temperature are listed as the main symptoms.
Taking to Instagram Stories on Tuesday night, she wrote: ‘So I came back positive with the virus… everyone who’s been messaging me about their sense of taste and smell going it most likely means you have it so follow guidelines and isolate.’
Diagnosis: Rachel Fenton has revealed that she’s been diagnosed with COVID-19, with her main symptoms not officially being listed as red flags by the NHS
In a further video, the NHS staffer went on to explain more about her symptoms, as she said: ‘My test came back positive. So many of you messaged me about loss of taste and smell which isn’t in the official symptom list.
‘But that was the main symptom for me. I didn’t have a temperature or cough. I just felt very tired. I had a bit of muscle achiness and a cold. I have completely lost my taste and smell. It’s a lot more severe.’
The diagnosis was made all the more worrying as the erstwhile reality star admitted that she otherwise felt in good health, so could well have continued to work, had she not taken the initiative to get tested.
Nurse: The 27-year-old Love Island star, who works as an orthopaedic clinical nurse specialist, revealed that she took the test after losing the ability to taste and smell
She said: ‘I’ve not felt unwell, I’ve felt OK. not 100 per cent, but not poorly. I’ve felt OK, still eating and still got an appetite. My symptoms are really mild. You need to be very careful if you’ve had loss of taste and smell to isolate.
‘I’m not going back to work now until I’m tested as negative. I’m not sure when they’ll get me back for a re-swab. For now I’m just isolating and looking after myself. It’s not been horrendous for me.’
She also warned that testing for the virus was an uncomfortable experience as she added: ‘The swab they do for the coronavirus test is uncomfortable. My friend warned me about it and I’m so glad she did.
‘I just want to warn you, they swab your nose and your throat. It goes far up your nose. It makes your eyes water and it’s really far back in your throat too. It’s not the most comfortable, but obviously so worth doing.’
The blonde beauty rose to prominence after appearing in the second season of Love Island, where she met and embarked on an 18-month romance with Rykard Jenkins.
Symptoms: In a video, the NHS staffer said, ‘My test came back positive. So many of you messaged me about loss of taste and smell which isn’t in the official symptom list’
Rachel’s diagnosis comes as a number of public figures have stepped forward with to share that they also have COVID-19, including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Idris Elba, Linda Lusardi, Donna Air, and Prime Minister Borois Johnson.
Meanwhile, ministers were accused of ‘complacence’ and snubbing offers of help from labs on Wednesday as Boris Johnson struggles to get a grip on the UK’s coronavirus testing shambles.
The government is desperately trying to ramp up the number of checks carried out, with experts warning that is the only way to end the lockdown threatening to dismantle the economy.
But the PM faces mounting fury over the failure to get anywhere near the levels being carried out in countries like Germany – which is carrying out more than 70,000 a day, while the UK is still well below 10,000.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove blamed a global shortage of chemicals at a press conference on Tuesday night, saying Johnson was taking personal control of trying to source the material.
Aches and pains: The healthcare professional said of her symptoms, ‘I didn’t have a temperature or cough. I just felt very tired. I had a bit of muscle achiness and a cold’
Advice: Rachel wrote on Instagram, ‘Everyone who’s been messaging me about their sense of taste and smell going it most likely means you have it so follow guidelines and isolate’
But within hours he was extraordinarily contradicted by firms, with a statement from the Chemical Industry Association saying despite an ‘escalating demand’ the ‘reagents’ for tests ‘are being manufactured and delivered to the NHS’.
One of the government’s own scientific advisers, Peter Openshaw of Imperial college, said in an interview on Tuesday night that he ‘wasn’t aware’ of the problem. ‘As far as I know there isn’t a great shortage of supply,’ he said.
Meanwhile, there are complaints that logistical blunders are hampering efforts to increase capacity. The ‘centralised’ approach by Public Health England (PHE) meant that labs have been left ‘sitting on their hands’, while Germany has authorised any institution with the right capability to get on with checks.
The consequences of the lack of testing for who currently has the virus was laid bare last night when it emerged that in initial trials 85 per cent of NHS staff who were isolating did not in fact have the virus – meaning they could have been working.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick admitted on Wednesday that the level of screening had only been rising slowly, but suggested it would ‘accelerate’.
Return: Rachel returned to her role as a healthcare professional after appearing on Love Island
However, he confirmed it will be weeks before the UK hits 25,000 tests a day, by which time the outbreak might be peaking.
In an increasingly frantic bid to quell the backlash, hospitals have been ordered to use any spare lab space to test self-isolating NHS staff for coronavirus as ministers.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has intervened to end the embarrassing situation where thousands of tests have been unused and a vast NHS swabbing station also stood deserted yesterday.
A source said the Mr Hancock had now scrapped a rule that 85 per cent of tests were reserved for patients, regardless of how many needed testing.
The developments came after the UK was rocked by the announcement of a record-breaking 381 coronavirus deaths, taking the total to 1,789 fatalities.
Show: The blonde beauty rose to stardom after appearing in the second season of Love Island
The ex factor: While on Love Island, she met and embarked on an 18-month romance with Rykard Jenkins. Pictured together in September 2016
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS?
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Where does the virus come from?
According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.
However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. It can also live on surfaces, such as plastic and steel, for up to 72 hours, meaning people can catch it by touching contaminated surfaces.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.
However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.
Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11. A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
Previously, the UN agency said most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.