Perez Duque M, Saad NJ, Lucaccioni H, Costa C, McMahon G, Machado F, Balasegaram S, Sá Machado R
PLoS One 16 (11) e0260249 [2021-11-19; online 2021-11-19]
COVID-19 mainly presents as a respiratory disease with flu-like symptoms, however, recent findings suggest that non-respiratory symptoms can occur early in the infection and cluster together in different groups in different regions. We collected surveillance data among COVID-19 suspected cases tested in mainland Portugal during the first wave of the pandemic, March-April 2020. A multivariable logistic-regression analysis was performed to ascertain the effects of age, sex, prior medical condition and symptoms on the likelihood of testing positive and hospitalisation. Of 25,926 COVID-19 suspected cases included in this study, 5,298 (20%) tested positive. Symptoms were grouped into ten clusters, of which two main ones: one with cough and fever and another with the remainder. There was a higher odds of a positive test with increasing age, myalgia and headache. The odds of being hospitalised increased with age, presence of fever, dyspnoea, or having a prior medical condition although these results varied by region. Presence of cough and other respiratory symptoms did not predict COVID-19 compared to non-COVID respiratory disease patients in any region. Dyspnoea was a strong determinant of hospitalisation, as well as fever and the presence of a prior medical condition, whereas these results varied by region.