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Letters Open letter

Open letter to Chris Whitty and Susan Hopkins: change covid-19 case definition in line with WHO to save lives

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 29 January 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n283
  1. Alex Sohal, general practitioner
  1. Chrisp Street Health Centre, London E14 6PG, UK
  1. ahsohal{at}

I hope this letter sharing 140 (and counting) general practitioners’ clinical experiences of patients with covid-19 will encourage you to adopt our proposal—to change the covid case definition and testing criteria in step with the World Health Organization, thus decreasing the spread of covid-19.

As GPs, we regularly review patients with mild symptoms—for example, a runny or blocked nose, sore throat, hoarseness, myalgia, fatigue, and headache—who subsequently turn out to be covid-19 positive. These symptoms are often inadvertently picked up while dealing with patients’ other more pressing health issues. These patients have frequently not even considered that they may have covid-19 and have not self-isolated in the crucial early days when they …

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