Story at a glance

  • Health experts say there is accumulating evidence that some COVID-19 patients experience loss of sense of smell and taste.
  • In a statement, health experts warned some adults experiencing loss of smell could be unknown carriers of COVID-19.
  • The World Health Organization says they have not confirmed loss of smell or taste as a symptom, but have not ruled it out.

The most common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and some patients have also reported digestive issues like diarrhea. But new reports suggest the loss of smell and taste could be a symptom of coronavirus as well. 

Citing a number of cases around the world, the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and ENT UK, a British group that represents ear, nose and throat doctors, each warned about coronavirus patients whose only symptoms included a loss of smell or taste.

“Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery said in a statement

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Dysgeusia is an altered sense of taste and anosmia is the loss of smell. 

South Korea, China and Italy have all reported a significant number of coronavirus patients who claimed experiencing a loss or reduced sense of smell, according to a joint statement from the British Rhinological Society and ENT UK

“In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30 percent of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases,” professor Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, wrote in a report published earlier this week. 

Hopkins said it is no surprise the novel COVID-19 virus would cause the loss of smell in infected patients, as respiratory viral infection is a common cause of loss of smell.


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The health experts urged health care workers to use personal protective equipment when treating any patients who have lost their sense of smell, and these symptoms should be added to the list for screening patients for possible COVID-19 infection. 

Experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) say they have not yet confirmed the loss of smell or taste as a symptom of the coronavirus, but have not ruled it out. 

In anecdotal evidence, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, reported having such symptoms, tweeting Sunday that loss of smell and taste is “definitely one of the symptoms.” He said he had not been able to smell anything for the last four days. 


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Published on Mar 25, 2020