The British Association of Otorhinolaryngologists, citing experience from colleagues around the world, warned on Friday that Covid-19’s symptom in mild illness could be temporary loss of sense of smell and taste, The New York Times reports.
People who observe such a phenomenon should self-isolate for seven days, even if there are no other symptoms. This should be done to reduce the likelihood of the disease spreading.
So far, these data have not yet been scientifically confirmed, but the experience of colleagues has led the British Association of Ear, Neck and Nose Doctors to issue such a warning.
“We are keen to point out that this may be a sign of infection. Anyone who has lost their sense of smell should self-isolate,” says Clare Hopkins, president of the association. “It could slow down the rate of infection and save human lives.”
Otorhinolaryngologists are at high risk of infection, and in the UK two members of the profession are in critical condition due to Covid-19, Hopkins emphasized. A statement from the organization she represents advises medical specialists to use available personal protective equipment when examining patients who complain of loss of smell and taste.
The British Medical Association referred to reports from other countries describing anosmia as one possible symptom. For example, in South Korea, where extensive testing is performed, anosmia was cited as the main symptom experienced in 30% of the 2,000 approved Covid-19 patients with mild disease.
On Sunday, the US Academy of Otorhinolaryngologists pointed out on its home page that loss of taste and smell could be symptoms of Covid-19. They are mainly seen in people with Covid-19 positive tests but without other symptoms.
If such symptoms are observed in patients who do not suffer from allergies or sinus infections, “The need for self-isolation and testing for such individuals should be seriously considered,” the Academy statement said.