Knowing that loss of smell is an early indicator of COVID-19 could be very useful in helping people who might otherwise feel fine self-quarantine, the ENT experts said.
In countries including China, South Korea, and Italy, patients who have tested positive for COVID 19, a third of them have complained about the loss of smell (Anosmia or hyposmia) as has been reported by leading ear, nose and throat experts in the UK.
The organisation consists of ear, nose, and throat specialists in the United Kingdom and it releases a statement saying that there was "good evidence" that patients in China, Italy and South Korea developed these symptoms, known as anosmia, while they were infected with the virus.
"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".
Hopkins, who published the statement along with Nirmal Kumar, the president of ENT UK, a body that represents, ear, nose and throat specialists in Britain, said she was driven by recent discussions on rhinological discussion boards related to the coronavirus pandemic. If a person who didn't have conditions such as hay fever or chronic allergies did develop a sudden loss of taste or smell, that could "warrant serious consideration for self-isolation and testing of these individuals", the AAOS said.
The association of anosmia with coronavirus infection was noted during an outbreak in New Rochelle, New York when many ENT doctors noted that patients who said they couldn't smell as well as before later turned out to be infected with the virus. "It could contribute to slowing transmission and save lives".
According to a case report from Taiwan, a woman infected with SARS, a close cousin of COVID-19, lost her sense of smell for more than two years. However, Germany is not testing at the same rates as South Korea and the data may be skewed.
"There is evolving evidence that otolaryngologists are among the highest risk group when performing upper airway surgeries and examinations", said a notice posted on the academy's website on Friday.
Physicians from other countries have cited reports indicating that a "significant number" of coronavirus patients experienced anosmia.
Even if you don't fit the criteria for testing, stay home and isolate yourself from other people if you suspect that you might have been in contact with someone carrying the virus. Marco Metra, cardiology chief at Brescia's main hospital, which has 700 coronavirus patients out of a total of 1,200 patients, says, "Almost everybody who is hospitalized has this same story". Again, this affirms the potential for anosmia to be an early symptom, appearing initially as the virus takes hold in a patient's nose and throat.
Many people who have lost their sense of smell initially turned to Twitter for answers, especially ones who had no other symptoms of COVID-19. Kumar was quoted by Sky News as saying. The sense of smell usually returns when the infection resolves, but in a small percentage of cases, smell loss can persist after other symptoms disappear.