UK adds loss of smell and taste to list of Covid-19 symptoms


A member of clinical staff takes a swab to  test a key worker for the novel coronavirus at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. (Photo:NEIL HALL/AFP via Getty Images)
A member of clinical staff takes a swab to test a key worker for the novel coronavirus at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. (Photo:NEIL HALL/AFP via Getty Images)

THE UK has added the loss of smell and taste to its official list of Covid-19 symptoms including fever and new continuous cough — a step that it hopes could help pick up more cases of the novel coronavirus.

“From today, all individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or anosmia,” the UK’s four chief medical officers said in a joint statement.

“Anosmia is the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked.”

Other possible symptoms of Covid-19 include fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or loss of appetite, but have not been included in the basic case definition.

By adding anosmia the sensitivity of new case pick-up could increase to 94 percent from 91 percent with just new cough and fever, said Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer.

When asked why the United Kingdom has lagged other countries in including the loss of smell in its official list, Van-Tam said: “The question is: Which of those symptoms actually make the interception of cases better or worse?”