Specialists in the treatment of ear, nose and throat in the United Kingdom have said that sudden loss of sense of taste and smell is the new symptom of the rampaging coronavirus disease.
The UK Independent quoted the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology as saying that “the new symptom was found in the absence of other symptoms of coronavirus, and patients experiencing it could be hidden carriers of the highly contagious disease.”
In medical practice, the condition is known as anosmia.
The organisation, in a statement, said there was “good evidence” from coronavirus patients in South Korea, China and Italy who developed the symptom.”
Prof. Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, and Prof. Nirmal Kumar, president of ENT UK, said in a joint statement that there had been a sudden rise “in cases of isolated anosmia” in the UK, US, France and northern Italy.
“I think these patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of Covid-19,” it said. “Unfortunately, these patients do not meet current criteria for testing or self-isolation.”
It was recommended that the new symptom could be used as a “screening tool” to identify patients who did not show other signs of being infected with Covid-19, such as a fever or dry cough.
“There is potential that if any adult with anosmia but no other symptoms was asked to self-isolate for seven days… we might be able to reduce the number of otherwise asymptomatic individuals who continue to act as vectors, not realising the need to self-isolate,” ENT UK added.
“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,” Kumar said.