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Lost your sense of smell or taste? You could be carrying coronavirus

  • Published at 12:40 pm March 23rd, 2020
Coronavirus
Photo: Bigstock

Many patients around the world who have tested positive for coronavirus are only showing symptoms of loss of smell and taste, while missing more commonly recognized symptoms of high fever and coughing

Anyone who experiences a sudden loss of smell is potentially a ‘hidden carrier’ of the coronavirus, even in the absence of other symptoms, according to evidence gathered by leading rhinologists in the UK.

Roughly a third of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in South Korea, China, and Italy, have also reported a loss of smell, known as anosmia or hyposmia, reports leading ear, nose, and throat experts in the UK.

The president of the British Rhinological Society Professor, Clare Hopkins, and the president of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology, professor Nirmal Kumar, said in a joint statement: "In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases."

According to them, many patients around the world who have tested positive for coronavirus are only showing symptoms of loss of smell and taste, while missing more commonly recognized symptoms of high fever and coughing, reports Business Insider.

"There have been a rapidly growing number of reports of a significant increase in the number of patients presenting with anosmia in the absence of other symptoms," the statement says. "Iran has reported a sudden increase in cases of isolated anosmia, and many colleagues from the US, France, and Northern Italy have the same experience."

Cases lacking recognized symptoms are unlikely to be tested and isolated. Such cases could be contributing to the rapid spread of coronavirus worldwide as they often go undetected.

"These patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of COVID-19," the professors added.

Younger patients in particular may show only a loss of smell or taste, missing the more commonly recognized COVID-19 symptoms of high fever and persistent coughs, Professor Kumar told Sky News.

"In young patients, they do not have any significant symptoms such as the cough and fever, but they may have just the loss of sense of smell and taste, which suggests that these viruses are lodging in the nose," he said.

The professors called for anyone showing symptoms of loss of taste or smell to go into isolation for seven days to avoid further spread.

Since originating in the Wuhan province of China last December, Coronavirus has infected more than 300,000 people and killed more than 14,000 people globally.

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