Fever. A cough. Fatigue. Now, a loss of smell has been circled as a potential symptom of coronavirus (COVID-19), leading some experts to call for anyone whose nose no longer operates as per usual to limit their exposure to other people.
Citing a raft of recent reports, The New York Times states the loss of the sense of smell, known as anosmia, has been linked to even the most minor confirmed cases of COVID-19.
According to the paper, medical personnel and researchers in Britain, the US, Italy, and Germany, have observed anosmia as a potential side-effect of the virus.
While it’s hardly the most severe impact of the virus, which has led to over 18,000 deaths worldwide, it’s enough for Professor Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, to say “anyone who develops loss of sense of smell should self-isolate.”
There are no definitive scientific papers on the phenomenon just yet. But Doctor Nirmal Kumar, the president of British ear, nose, and throat specialist organisation ENTUK, told TIME Magazine the anosmia may be caused by the virus mucking around with the mucous membrane in the nasal cavity.
“I feel that we need to add this to the self isolation rules, because these young fit people are spreading it around,” Dr. Kumar said.
Taking to Twitter on the weekend, NBA basketballer Rudy Gobert, the first athlete in the league diagnosed with COVID-19, confirmed he has lost his sense of smell.
Just to give you guys an update, loss of smell and taste is definitely one of the symptoms, haven’t been able to smell anything for the last 4 days. Anyone experiencing the same thing?
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) March 22, 2020
Rory Lawson, former captain of the Scottish rugby league squad, has also been diagnosed with the virus. He said today was his fourth day in a row with total anosmia.
#coronavirus update… 9th day of symptoms. No fever since day 5. Cough still deep in chest. Zero sense of smell/taste for 4th day. 60% energy.
Thanks for well wishes. What’s struck home is that this is NOT a disease of the old. It’s a killer. Full stop. Keep doing whats right.
— Rory Lawson (@rorylawson9) March 24, 2020
Earlier, British MP and Health Minister Nadine Dorries said she too had lost her olfactory capabilities thanks to COVID-19.
A side effect of #coronavirus for me is the fact that I have lost ???? of taste and smell. Absolutely zero of both, so weird. Eating and drinking warm or cold that’s all I can tell. No point in putting a tea bag in the water. ☕️
— Nadine Dorries ???????? (@NadineDorries) March 19, 2020
Not even her dog’s decision to roll around in the muck kickstarted her sense of smell.
— Nadine Dorries ???????? (@NadineDorries) March 20, 2020
Just to reiterate: Australian health authorities have not yet slapped anosmia into the hard and fast list of symptoms, but some Australian ear, nose, and throat experts reckon it might not hurt.
Stay safe out there.
If you think you may have coronavirus, either call your doctor (DON’T visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you’re struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.
And please remember to wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds) and keep at least 1.5 metres between you and those around you.
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