Loss of smell and taste could be new symptom of COVID-19, says expert
Andy Murray

One of the UK's leading ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultants believes the loss of the senses of smell and taste could be a new symptom of contracting COVID-19.

Nirmal Kumar, president of ENT UK, has noticed a sharp rise in cases of isolated anosmia – the total or partial loss of smell, without any nasal blockages – not only in Britain, but also across Europe and beyond.

He believes patients who display a sudden loss of smell or taste could have the coronavirus without realising it, even if they don't display a high temperature or a continuous new cough, which are the primary indicators of infection. 

"We've had 700 reports from patients around the world [presenting sudden loss of smell and taste] and this is much more frequent than we're used to seeing. We used to see once in a blue moon a patient losing their sense of smell on its own," Kumar told CGTN Europe.

"At the moment, even those patients who are not yet symptomatic with a cough and fever should self-isolate."

The loss of smell and taste could be a symptom of contracting the coronavirus. /Jack Guez/AFP

The loss of smell and taste could be a symptom of contracting the coronavirus. /Jack Guez/AFP

Kumar is working with Professor Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, to find out if their research goes beyond the anecdotal.

He accepts there will be skeptics at this early stage and says the next step is to form a group of professionals to continue working on the study.

"The medical community is very interested [in our findings]. Once this survey's results are available, we will then present to Public Health England and perhaps the wider medical community so that we can make sure that this symptom is studied more closely," Kumar added.


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