A new series of reports and statements from various scientific and medical organizations throughout the world have shown that a new early-warning sign of infection may actually be the loss of taste or smell.
A report from Business Insider Science quoted two UK medical leaders with their findings on the topic. Prof. Clare Hopkins, President of the British Rhinological Society along with fellow Professor Nirmal Kumar who is the President of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology, jointly issued a statement expressing the influx of COVID-19 patients that report sudden loss of taste and smell.
The British Association of Otorhinolaryngology has advised authorities in the UK to have anyone exhibiting the loss of taste or smell to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days.
The evidence from the leading rhinologists in the UK (commonly called Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors in the US) shows that it’s plausible many “hidden” carriers of COVID-19 could be infecting others without showing symptoms other than the loss of smell or taste.
“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,” the Professors’ joint statement said, in part.
The loss of smell, called anosmia, and the loss of taste (aguesia), have been noted in a high percentage of patients already and more reports from COVID-19 positive people are emerging by the day.
The UK Health Minister, Nadine Dorries, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March, reported that she had lost total sense of taste and smell as part of her symptoms.
A side effect of #coronavirus for me is the fact that I have lost 💯 of taste and smell. Absolutely zero of both, so weird. Eating and drinking warm or cold that’s all I can tell. No point in putting a tea bag in the water. ☕️
— Nadine Dorries 🇬🇧 (@NadineDorries) March 19, 2020
Even now, more than 20 days after, she still is reporting she cannot taste nor smell, however, scientists think that most people will regain their senses after their body has fully recovered.
The loss of these two senses are common with some types of viral illnesses and this same symptom was noted during the 2003 SARS outbreak.
“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 Professors’ statement continued. “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.”
Because many who are reporting the loss of smell / taste and do not have additional symptoms of the virus are testing positive, this could be a key to unlocking why this virus is spreading so quickly.
“These patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of COVID-19,” the Professors added.
Watch the report from CBS This Morning below and be sure to check with the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention for up-to-date news and facts about COVID-19.