Fever, a dry cough, headaches and shortness of breath are among the symptoms the World Health Organisation (WHO) have recognised as being associated with coronavirus.

But it was a symptom far less common that led a Queensland nurse to fear he had Covid-19 – and he was right.

One of the state's two new infections – both of which are linked to a cluster spreading from Ipswich – the 37-year-old man had been treating patients in the Ipswich Hospital's dedicated virus ward, Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles told reporters this morning.

"He identified he had abdominal pain, not normally considered a symptom of Covid-19, but he was incredibly wise and he identified that that was a symptom that could be from Covid-19," Miles said.


"He went and got tested and that test came back positive."

While Miles pointed out abdominal pain is not among the symptoms we've been warned to look out for as signs of infection, a May study published by the Royal College of Physicians suggested there had been a number of patients in France who had presented in hospital with acute abdominal pain and went on to test positive for Covid-19.

In at least one of the patients, the pain had been associated with nausea and diarrhoea – both of which are listed by the WHO as virus symptoms, albeit less common ones.

However, the researchers noted, "there has been no previous report of afebrile acute abdominal pain as the first presentation of Covid-19".

"The pathophysiology of these abdominal pains likely relies on an inflammatory process such as gastroenteritis. Even though coronaviruses are considered as respiratory viruses mostly transmitted via the airways, primary or secondary oral contamination may be responsible for these abdominal symptoms," they wrote.

A separate study, published by The Lancet in early July, reported on eight children with Covid-19 in the UK presenting to hospital with "symptoms of atypical appendicitis".

"We draw attention to Covid-19 presenting in paediatric patients with primary symptoms of fever and abdominal pain, which might be mistaken for appendicitis," the researchers wrote.

"All patients presented with a combination of symptoms including fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting."


It's also not the first time new side effects of the virus, which has infected some 25.3 million people around the world, have been identified.

A study from Spanish researchers in late July suggested another sign of the potentially-deadly disease was rash-like lesions inside the mouths of infected patients.

That discovery followed a separate group of Spanish scientists in April linking lesions on feet to coronavirus, while clumsiness, disturbance in brain function and loss of taste and smell are other notable symptoms linked to Covid-19 as the pandemic has evolved.

Miles said the Queensland man's swift action "underlines how we can all do the right thing by monitoring our health and if we have any symptoms at all that are of any cause for concern, we can go and get tested – so we thank him very much for that".