The UK’s chief medical officers have added anosmia – the loss of taste and smell – to the list of symptoms that should prompt people to self-isolate due to possible Covid-19.
The change comes several weeks after an early study by King’s College London found 60% of patients who were later found to have Covid-19 had reported the symptom.
Up until now, people have been advised to self-isolate if they develop a cough or fever.
The four UK CMOs said in a statement: ‘From today, all individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or anosmia.
‘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.’
The CMOs for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said the change in guidance is based on new data and evidence.
They said: ‘We have been closely monitoring the emerging data and evidence on Covid-19 and after thorough consideration, we are now confident enough to recommend this new measure.
‘The individual’s household should also self-isolate for 14 days as per the current guidelines and the individual should stay at home for seven days, or longer if they still have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell or taste.’
Researchers from Kings College London advised people to self-isolate if they developed a loss of taste and smell at the end of March.
They had found, via the COVID Symptom Tracker app, used by 2m people in the UK, that combined with other symptoms, people with loss of smell and taste appeared three times more likely to have contracted Covid-19.
The new guidance in full
Changes for the symptomatic individual and their household:
- Individuals will need to self-isolate immediately if they develop a new continuous cough OR fever OR as of today, a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste (Anosmia).
- All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.
Source: UK Government