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Signs of Covid-19: Loss of sense of smell and taste

Patient was unable to pick up the citrus scent of an orange his wife was peeling

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Singapore – An adjunct associate professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) lost his sense of smell before testing positive for Covid-19, which scientists have confirmed, along with losing one’s sense of taste, to be significant symptoms of the virus.

Last Monday (March 23), Mr Hugh Mason realised he had lost his sense of smell after being unable to pick up the citrus scent of an orange his wife was peeling. According to a straitstimes.com report, he had read online reports about Covid-19 taking away the sense of smell in some cases.

Mr Mason tested positive for the virus on Friday (March 27) and is now warded at the Singapore General Hospital.

Harvard Medical School researchers have confirmed the coronavirus’ capability of attacking vital cells in the nose, which leads to a loss of the sense of smell and taste that Covid-19 patients experience. Known as anosmia and dysgeusia, respectively, the abrupt and unexplained loss of the sense of smell and taste in patients who tested positive for the virus was described as “significant symptoms” by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery on March 22.

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The group has proposed that these symptoms be added to the list of screening tools for possible Covid-19 infection. They also advised individuals who experience a partial or total loss of smell and taste to promptly alert physicians and consider self-isolation and testing.

Based on a businessinsider.com report, about a third of patients who tested positive for the virus in South Korea, China and Italy, encountered a loss of the sense of smell.

Many Covid-19 patients around the world reported only a loss of the sense of smell and taste and not the more commonly recognised symptoms such as high fever and coughing, said the president of the British Rhinological Society, Professor Clare Hopkins, and the president of the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology, Professor Nirmal Kumar, in a joint statement.

“These patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of Covid-19,” the professors noted. They added that younger patients have been demonstrating such symptoms which suggests that the virus settles in the nose.

The professors urged those experiencing such symptoms to self-isolate for seven days to prevent the virus from spreading. /TISG

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