Amid the rising cases of coronavirus patients across the world, ear, nose and throat specialists in the UK on Tuesday (March 24) said that loss of taste and smell could be seen as a new symptom of the deadly virus.
According to Independent, the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT UK) said the new symptom was found in the “absence of other symptoms” of coronavirus, and people who are showing the symptom could be “hidden carriers” of COVID-19.
The organisation represents ear, nose and throat surgeons in the UK and it released a statement saying there was “good evidence” from coronavirus patients in South Korea, China and Italy who developed this symptom which is called called anosmia.
Professor Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, and Professor Nirmal Kumar, president of ENT UK, released a joint statement saying there had been a sudden rise “in cases of isolated anosmia” in the some countries, including 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.”
The doctors recommended that the new symptom could be used as a “screening tool” to identify patients who are not having fever or dry cough, which are common symptom of coroinavirus infection.
"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.
Prof 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.”
Notably, two specialists of ENT UK were being treated for coronavirus and it was expected that the two specialists were “most likely” infected while carrying out daily clinical work with asymptomatic patients.