Tens of thousands of cases of COCID-19 may have been missed because of delays in warning the public that loss of taste and smell is a key symptom that should lead to self-isolation or testing, experts say.
The four chief medical officers of the UK have finally made official what many scientists had been saying for weeks: that anosmia, or loss of smell, should be added to the other two main warning symptoms, a continuous cough and high temperature. Those who experience any of the three symptoms should isolate for seven days and their families for 14 days.
Prof Tim Spector from King’s College London and his team said data from 1.5 million people who downloaded their symptom-reporting app suggested 50,000 to 70,000 people in the UK had been missed. As early as 1 April, they warned that people with anosmia should self-isolate.
They were joined by ear, nose and throat surgeons, who said loss of taste and smell could be one of the few markers for people who were otherwise asymptomatic and potentially able to infect other people without realising they were a risk.
Their professional body, ENT-UK, said they had been calling for eight weeks for anosmia to be listed as a marker for asymptomatic carriers. It issued a joint statement with the British Rhinology Society (BRS) on 20 March, it said. “We estimate that many hundreds of thousands of patients in the UK have developed anosmia as a result of COVID-19,” said Prof Claire Hopkins, the BRS president.
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Source: Guardian, 18 May 2020