Losing your sense of smell or taste IS a symptom of coronavirus, British officials finally admit, urging Britons to isolate themselves if it happens to them
- The three official symptoms are now fever, new cough, or lost sense of smell
- If you are given any of these, isolate yourself at home for at least seven days
- Chief medical officers hope that adding it to the list will increase the number of diagnosed numbers
- Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he developed the symptom when he was ill
- Here’s how you can help people affected by Covid-19
People should isolate themselves if they lose their taste or smell because it is a clear symptom of coronavirus, the government announced today.
Anosmia, the clinical name for a change in smell or taste, has become the third symptom of the coronavirus to be officially recognized by the NHS.
Until now, people have only been told that they could get the virus if they have a fever or a new continuous cough.
But scientists working for the government have now decided that there is enough evidence to add anosmia to the list.
Government guidelines require the patient to isolate themselves for at least seven days, and everyone in their household to do so for two weeks.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief physician, said officials hope that adding the symptom to the list of physicians will help identify two percent more patients.
“With a cough or fever, the sensitivity was about 91 percent,” he said in a telephone briefing this morning. “By adding anosmia, we think it could increase to 93 percent.”
Specialist nose and throat doctors are urging the government to add the symptom to its official list of symptoms since March, saying doctors around the world have seen the bizarre effect increase tremendously.
To this day, a new continuous cough was the only officially recognized coronavirus symptom. Now anosmia – a lost or changed sense of smell or taste – is included
It’s not yet clear how many people who catch COVID-19 lose their sense of smell, and Professor Van-Tam said estimates range from ‘teens’ to over 50 percent.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted that he had lost his sense of smell when he fell ill with the virus, but it returned soon after he recovered.
Professor Van-Tam said, “The reason for making the change now is that there has been a signal for some time around the importance of anosmia as a symptom of COVID-19.
“It was important to keep looking at that and making sure we think about it and introduce it at the right time … this was quite a difficult piece of science.”
He said that in many cases it was not certain that people immediately lost their sense of smell or taste because of the coronavirus.
Other viruses that affect the airways have the same effect, including colds and flu.
Adding the symptom to the list too quickly could have confused whether people without the virus led them to believe they had it, the Deputy CMO added.
In most cases, people’s senses return to normal after their illness, but it is possible that it is permanent.
The UK’s four medical heads, led by Professor Chris Whitty, said in a statement today: ‘We have been closely monitoring the emerging data and evidence on COVID-19 and after thorough consideration we are now confident enough to adopt this new measure recommend.
“The individual’s household should also isolate themselves for 14 days according to current guidelines, and the individual should stay at home for seven days, or longer if they still have symptoms other than coughing or loss of smell or taste.”