LONDON — The United Kingdom 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 about two per cent 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 United Kingdom’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 93 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?”
—Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton and Peter Graff