May 18, 2020
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Delayed Warning On Loss Of Taste And Smell Certainly Helped Spread Covid-19 In UK
The government’s belated decision to recognise a loss of smell and taste as an official symptom of Coronavirus has “certainly” affected how far the virus has spread in the UK, a leading doctor has told HuffPost UK.
Ear, nose and throat specialist Professor Nirmal Kumar, along with colleague Professor Claire Hopkins, called on Public Health England eight weeks ago to recognise anosmia as a symptom of Covid-19 after they saw a huge increase of it among their patients.
Prof Kumar told HuffPost UK: “We certainly think it’s affected how far the virus has spread. The problem with the symptom is it’s in young fit people who otherwise are well and don’t have any other severe symptoms.
“Having no other severe symptoms, you then go about your normal activities if you’re a key worker or a health worker. It’s almost worse because if you had a terrible symptom like a fever you wouldn’t be walking around.”
HuffPost UK has learned of at least one instance where a care home worker rang 111 and was told that because he was only experiencing anosmia and not a cough or fever, that it was safe for him to go to work.
In a similar case, Freya Langdale, 29, a community psychiatric nurse working in Lewisham, told PA Media that she developed anosmia at the end of March.
She did not develop a cough, might have had a mild temperature, but otherwise had no “extreme” other symptoms.
Asked about a loss of taste and smell now being added to the NHS list she said: “I think it is a bit frustrating”, adding: “I’m a nurse and working with patients, we were told: ‘Oh it’s only if you have a temperature or a cough then if you don’t have that then you can come in’.”
Other purported incidents of similar cases have also appeared on Social Media since the decision to add anosmia was announced.Finally!!!! As an A&E nurse having these symptoms yet they wouldn’t test us at the time this was back in March!!! Do you no the heartache this has caused, that I’ve give this to my loved ones or any of my patients??? I had no cough or fever!— Ashlee👸 (@GibneyAshlee) May 18, 2020My son a paramedic was the same.. amd he gave it to his partner an nurse practitioner 7days later... he was made go to work as it wasnt a symptom— Maria Taylor (@MariaGtal) May 18, 2020@BBC_Global_News yes, 100,000 tests per day for NHS staff however....my wife is a key worker but was denied a test because she did not meet the criteria. This is all despite having a high temperature, constant cough, achy muscles wand loss of taste and smell.....disgusting!— Bob Brockwell (@BobBrockwell) April 8, 2020At Monday’s Downing Street briefing, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said very few Covid-19 patients experience loss of taste and smell as a lone symptom of the virus.
He added: “So, the point about anosmia is it doesn’t always come as the first symptom.
“Even if it does, it is followed by the cough, the fever and many of the other symptoms I have talked about.”
But Professor Hopkins told HuffPost UK this was because most of those being tested for coronavirus in the UK were already in hospital as they went there with more severe symptoms such as cough or fever.
She add: “I’ve worked with colleagues across Europe where testing was more widely available to look at patterns in mild patients, and in those patients cough and fever are much less common and loss of smell the most prevalent.”
Prof Kumar added: “It can come as just the one symptom in 20% of patients for certain.”
The UK has been one of the slowest nations to update its guidelines on anosmia and the NHS’s official list of symptoms is far shorter than international counterparts.
As of May 18, it lists:high temperaturenew, continuous coughloss or change to your sense of smell or taste (anosmia)The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC) lists nine symptoms with anosmia being added on April 2, and the US Centre For Disease Control (CDC) lists seven, with anosmia being added on April 17.
The World Health Organisation, from which all countries have been looking to for guidance during the coronavirus pandemic, lists 14 symptoms with anosmia added on May 1.Related... Grant Shapps Hints At 'Air Bridges' Between UK And Low-Risk Nations Coronavirus Will Not 'Just Go Away' And May Be Here For 'Years', Top Medic Warns
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