Throughout this pandemic Albertans been told having a sore throat, a cough or difficulty breathing are the most common symptoms connected to COVID-19.

But the evolving Omicron variant has some other symptoms you might be less familiar with.

“Since the emergence of Omicron we have seen more people presenting mostly diarrhea and some with vomiting, I would say diarrhea predominantly in terms of [gastrointestinal] symptoms,” University of Alberta infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephanie Smith said.

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Smith said most people don’t generally associate gastrointestinal symptoms with COVID-19, but more and more Albertans testing positive with the virus are experiencing these symptoms.

“We have been seeing a higher rate of people coming into hospital and people in the community with more GI symptoms,” Smith said.

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Earlier this week, Alberta’s health minister said while hospitalizations remain high the province may be plateauing when it comes to COVID-19 cases.

“Edmonton has seen high levels recently but the level has dropped sharply in the past week, now it’s too soon to know if it’s a start of a sustained downward trend but the signs are hopeful,” Minister of Health Jason Copping said in a Wednesday briefing.

Click to play video: 'Alberta continues to see signs of slowing COVID- 19 transmission: Health minister'

Alberta continues to see signs of slowing COVID- 19 transmission: Health minister

Alberta continues to see signs of slowing COVID- 19 transmission: Health minister

Smith said Albertans should still be aware of the virus and its risks.

“We may have plateaued, but certainly we’re still well above where we were kind of between waves in the past,” she said.

Smith stressed it is important to get tested if you are vomiting, have stomach pain or diarrhea.

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“If you have GI symptoms — it may well be COVID-19, and you should test,” she said.

Smith encourages Albertans who do test positive to stay home as recovery from those symptoms could take about three to four days.

She said if symptoms only last around 24 hours, it could be another non-COVID-19 virus.

Smith adds while GI symptoms are becoming a more common with this variant, respiratory viral symptoms like a cough or sore throat remain the leading indicators of COVID-19.

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