Losing your sense of smell or taste is a symptom of the coronavirus. The British officials finally admit that if the happenings happen, they will ask the British to isolate themselves
- The three official symptoms are now fever, new cough, or lost sense of smell
- If you get one of these, you should isolate yourself at home for at least seven days
- Chief Medical Officers hope that listing will increase the number of patients diagnosed
- Health Minister Matt Hancock said he developed the symptom when he was sick
- Here's how you can help people affected by Covid-19
People should isolate themselves if they lose their sense of taste or smell, as this is a clear symptom of coronavirus, the government announced today.
Anosmia, the clinical name for a change in smell or taste, is the third symptom of the coronavirus that is officially recognized by the NHS.
So far, people have only been advised that they could have the virus if they had a fever or a new, persistent cough.
But scientists working for the government have now decided that there is enough evidence to add anosmia to the list.
According to government instructions, the patient must isolate himself for at least seven days, and everyone in his household should do so for two weeks.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said officials hope that adding the symptom to the list will help medical professionals recognize two percent more patients.
"The sensitivity to coughing or fever was 91 percent," he said in a phone call this morning. "By adding anosmia to the case taking, we think it could be 93 percent."
The decision is made after ministers were warned last week that one in four patients does not know that they have COVID-19 because they do not have a cough or fever but are suffering from anosmia or other lesser known signs.
Since March, specialized nasal and pharyngeal doctors have been asking the government to include the symptom on their official list. Warning doctors around the world had noticed a huge increase in the bizarre effect.
It is not yet clear how many people who get COVID-19 lose their sense of smell, and Professor Van-Tam said the estimates range from "teenagers" to over 50 percent.
However, data collected by Public Health England on the first few hundred patients in the UK have convinced officials that there is a sufficiently strong connection to be certain.
Health Minister Matt Hancock admitted that he had lost his sense of smell when he contracted the virus, but that it had returned soon after his recovery.
To date, a new continuous cough has been the only officially recognized symptom of the coronavirus. Now anosmia – a lost or altered sense of smell or taste – is added to the list
Professor Van-Tam said: “The reason for the change is that there has been a signal for some time now about the importance of anosmia as a symptom of COVID-19.
"It was important to look at that further and make sure we took it into account and implemented it at the right time … it was a pretty difficult piece of science."
He said that in many cases it is not safe for people to lose their sense of smell or taste directly because of the corona virus.
Other respiratory viruses are known to have the same effect, including colds and flu.
Adding the symptom to the list too early could cause confusion or cause people without the virus 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 they will be permanent.
The four British Chief Medical Officers, led by Professor Chris Whitty, said in a statement today: “We have closely monitored the emerging data and evidence regarding COVID-19 and, after a thorough review, are confident enough to recommend this new measure.
"According to current guidelines, the person's household should also isolate themselves for 14 days, and the person should stay at home for seven days or more if they have symptoms other than coughing or loss of smell or taste."