Anyone with loss of taste or smell told to self-isolate as symptoms list updated

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

A loss or changed sense of taste or smell are to be added to the NHS coronavirus symptoms list, weeks after experts first raised concerns that Covid-19 cases are being missed.

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, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said.

If the symptomatic person lives with others, they should stay at home for seven days, while all other household members should stay home for 14 days even if they do not have symptoms.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The move means loss of smell or taste will now be listed alongside fever and cough as the main symptoms of Covid-19.

People with a loss of taste or smell are being told to self-isolate as coronavirus continues to spread in the UKPeople with a loss of taste or smell are being told to self-isolate as coronavirus continues to spread in the UK
People with a loss of taste or smell are being told to self-isolate as coronavirus continues to spread in the UK | pa

Join our new coronavirus Facebook group for the latest confirmed news and advice as soon as we get it www.facebook.com/groups/yorkshirecoronavirusProf Van-Tam told reporters it would mean 93% of cases where people have symptoms are now picked up, a rise from 91% previously.

It comes after a major study, published last week by Professor Tim Spector at King’s College London, found that people with a positive test result were three times more likely to report loss of smell and taste as a symptom than those who went on to test negative.

He heavily criticised the Government’s stance on Monday, saying infected people had been encouraged back to work due to a failure to track symptoms properly.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Prof Spector, head of the department of genetic epidemiology and leader of the Covid symptom study app at King’s, said 50,000 to 70,000 people in the UK with Covid-19 were currently not being told to self-isolate even though they had the virus.

He blamed Public Health England (PHE) and the wider strategy, saying an insistence that only fever and cough were the major symptoms was missing thousands of cases.

Until now, the NHS 111 coronavirus symptom checker has listed high temperature and cough as the symptoms of Covid-19.

Prof Van-Tam said on April 3 that the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) had looked at the issue and concluded loss of smell or taste should not be added to the symptom list.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But in the same month, ENT UK, the professional membership body representing ear, nose and throat surgery in the UK, published guidance to patients saying it believed loss of smell and loss of taste were symptoms of coronavirus and that it had shared these details with PHE.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) listed loss of smell and taste as “less common symptoms” several weeks ago and other countries, including the US, added the symptom.

On Monday, Prof Van-Tam said people should now watch out for a “loss of or change in your normal” sense of smell or taste.

He said it had been known for a while that people were reporting loss of smell and taste as symptoms but advisers had needed to look at this in detail.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Prof Van-Tam said it was unclear whether or not loss of sense of taste and smell was acquired prior to other Covid-19 symptoms.

Earlier, Prof Spector said there are even more symptoms – such as tiredness, stomach pain or diarrhoea – that could be included as possible coronavirus symptoms.

He said: “We list about 14 symptoms which we know are related to having a positive swab test.

“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.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There’s no point telling people to be alert if they don’t know the symptoms.”

Prof Van-Tam said scientists had had to “work out very carefully” how valid loss of taste or smell were in counting cases and where in the course of an illness the symptoms might occur.

He said Prof Spector’s paper cited loss of smell and taste as being more frequent in people who test positive “but very much in the presence of other symptoms”.

He added: “The question for Nervtag has always been: at what point can we be sure that by adding anosmia (loss of smell) or adding anything else, frankly – there’s plenty of other things such as fatigue, diarrhoea loss of appetite – at what point would adding any of these definitely improve and help us to pick up cases?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“That work has now been completed. And that’s why we’ve got to the position we have now, not just about whether or not anosmia exists – it’s about what role it plays in identifying cases, and that’s taken time to work through those data.”

Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said his loss of taste had not been permanent.

“For me personally, I did lose my sense of taste but it has come back though,” he said.

---------------------------

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson

Editor