The UK government has included loss of taste and smell to the list of COVID-19 symptoms people should look out for in addition to previous ones such as cough and fever.
Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, on Monday, said with the development has become imperative to further enhance existing ways of detecting those infected with the novel coronavirus.
According to him, anyone suffering loss of taste or smell, or a noticeable change, should now self-isolate for seven days to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.
Cough and fever have been the major symptoms suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for people to self-isolate or get tested.
But several experts had called for expansion of the list to include other symptoms which could also facilitate spread of the virus.
Researchers at King’s College London, using an app, had examined 1.5 million people in the UK who suggest they might have contracted the novel disease.
Findings from the study had shown that there might be need to incorporate several other symptoms — including tiredness and stomach pain or diarrhoea — found among those sampled to the list of possible COVID-19 symptoms.
“We list about 14 symptoms which we know are related to having a positive swab test,” Tim Spector, the lead researcher, said.
“These are not being picked up by the NHS. This country is missing them all and not only underestimating cases but also putting people at risk and continuing the epidemic.
“There’s no point telling people to be alert if they don’t know the symptoms.”
Also speaking, Nirmal Kumar, from ENT UK, the umbrella organisation for doctors in charge of ear, nose and throat doctors, described the development as a welcome development, adding that such was “better late than never”.
“We had been asking for this almost eight weeks ago. The delay has not helped at all. Many, many people have contacted us with concerns about loss of smell and taste and whether these are symptoms they should act upon,” he said.
The UK has suffered the most deadly outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, according to official figures, with close to 35,000 confirmed deaths.
Last month, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had added six new symptoms, including chills, repeated shaking, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Loss of taste or smell also made the list.
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