BACKGROUND: Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019, there have been more than 115 million cases worldwide (1). Symptoms of COVID-19 vary widely and the spectrum of clinical presentation has yet to be fully characterised (2). Many countries have detailed their early experience with COVID-19, with a focus on the clinical characteristics of the disease . However, to our knowledge, there has been no such study detailing symptoms in the Irish population .
AIM: Our aim is to describe COVID-19 symptoms in the Irish population at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and compare symptoms between those reporting positive and negative test results .
METHOD: A Web page MyCovidSymptoms.ie was created by researchers at the National University of Ireland, Galway, in April 2020 to investigate COVID-19 symptoms in Ireland . The Web page invited participants to self-report RT-PCR test outcome data (positive, negative, untested), temperature and a range of symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of taste, loss of smell).
RESULTS: One hundred and twenty-three Irish participants who had a RT-PCR test for COVID-19 logged their symptoms . Eighty-four patients reported that they tested positive for COVID-19, and 39 patients reported a negative COVID-19 test . In our cohort of respondents with a positive COVID-19 test , 49/84 (58 %) respondents reported a cough . Of the 39 respondents with a negative COVID-19 test , 17 (44 %) reported having a cough . The distribution of temperature was similar in both those with and without COVID-19 . Levels of self-reported fatigue were high in both groups with 65/84 (77 %) of COVID-19-positive patients reporting fatigue and 30/39 (77 %) of those who were COVID-19-negative reporting fatigue . New symptoms emerging at the time of data collection included loss of taste and smell . We demonstrated a higher proportion of loss of smell (p = 0.02) and taste (p = 0.01) in those reporting a positive result, compared to those reporting a negative result .
CONCLUSION: These data represents an early picture of the clinical characteristics of COVID-19 in an Irish population . It also highlights the potential use of self-reported data globally as a powerful tool in helping with the pandemic.
Index: COVID-19, Clinical characteristics, Digital Health, Innovation, Symptoms