Loss of smell may be COVID-19 symptom, physicians warn

Some physicians have identified the loss of smell and taste as a new potential new symptom of COVID-19, reports The New York Times.

Two ear, nose and throat physicians in Britain issued a joint statement March 20, urging healthcare workers to wear personal protective equipment when treating patients with this symptom and avoid performing endoscopy procedures unless absolutely necessary. They also said individuals experiencing loss of smell should self-isolate for seven days, even if they don't have any other symptoms.

"We really want to raise awareness that this is a sign of infection and that anyone who develops loss of sense of smell should self-isolate," Dr. Claire Hopkins, one of the ENT physicians and president of the British Rhinological Society, told NYT via email. "It could contribute to slowing transmission and save lives."

While published data on the potential symptom is limited, physicians worldwide have reported similar observations.

"Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world" that loss of sense of smell is associated with COVID-19, the American Academy of Otolaryngology said in a March 22 statement on its website.

"We propose that these symptoms be added to the list of screening tools for possible COVID-19 infection ... and warrant serious consideration for self-isolation and testing of these individuals," the group said.

More articles on public health:
Italian physicians urge other nations to treat more patients at home
How Americans are responding to coronavirus pandemic: 5 survey findings
CMS halts quality reporting; FDA takes action on ventilator shortage — 10 COVID-19 updates for Monday

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