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Could Loss of Smell Be a Sign of COVID-19 Infection?

FILE - A visitor smells a Sir Paul Smith climbing rose at the Chelsea Flower Show in London.
FILE - A visitor smells a Sir Paul Smith climbing rose at the Chelsea Flower Show in London.

A loss of sense of smell could be a telling symptom that a patient is carrying the novel coronavirus, according to a new study out of Britain.

ENT UK, a group of ear nose and throat doctors in Britain, published a study with limited numbers showing that anosmia, the loss of smell, may sometimes be exhibited in patients carrying COVID-19, even if they exhibit no other symptoms.

“Evidence from South Korea, China and Italy suggests that significant numbers of patients with COVID-19 have developed anosmia/hyposmia,” a joint letter by ENT UK and the British Rhinological Society wrote.

“In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases,” the letter went on.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology picked up the study and has proposed that anosmia and the accompanying loss of taste be added to the list of symptoms that warrant being tested for COVID-19.

“Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Academy wrote on its website.

Currently in the United States, patients wanting to be tested for COVID-19 must have been in contact with a known virus carrier, as well as exhibit symptoms including fever and dry cough.

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