Anosmia, the loss of sense of smell, and ageusia, an accompanying diminished sense of taste, have emerged as telltale signs of being infected by the Coronavirus. It is reported that almost one-third of those infected with the virus suffered a loss of the senses of smell and taste. Doctors in the United Kingdom have compiled evidence that suggests that anyone experiencing a sudden loss of smell or taste could be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus even if they do not have any other symptoms.
Professor Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society wrote: “We really want to raise awareness that this is a sign of infection and that anyone who develops a loss of sense of smell should self-isolate. “It could contribute to slowing transmission and save lives,” she added. “In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases,” President of the British Rhinological Society Professor, Clare Hopkins, and the president of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology, Professor Nirmal Kumar, said in a joint statement.
“There have been a rapidly growing number of reports of a significant increase in the number of patients presenting with anosmia in the absence of other symptoms,” the statement says. “Iran has reported a sudden increase in cases of isolated anosmia, and many colleagues from the US, France and Northern Italy have the same experience,” it adds. “I think these patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of COVID-19,” they added.
Professor Nirmal Kumar said, “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.” He added, “At the present time PPE is available only in limited quantities and will be reserved for use only when patients presenting as emergencies show up.”
Deputy Chairman of Iran’s Rhinology Association Dr. Ebrahim Razmpa told the Iranian ISNA news that there has been “a sudden, unexpected and unbelievable jump in cases of weak sense of smell and difficulty with vision”. However, it isn’t clear yet whether the spike was caused by the Wuhan Coronavirus or other factors. The reason for the loss of smell is believed to be the fact that the nose is the entry point of the virus and it could be that the virus lodges itself in the nose.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology on Sunday said that mounting anecdotal evidence indicates that lost or reduced sense of smell and loss of taste are significant symptoms associated with the Wuhan Coronavirus, and that they have been observed in patients who ultimately tested positive with no other symptoms. However, other doctors have warned that the new symptoms aren’t yet widespread in the medical community.