British health officials added loss of taste and smell to their coronavirus symptoms list on Monday after experts warned cases were being missed.
“From today, all individuals should self-isolate if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or anosmia,” Britain’s chief medical officers said in a statement.
“Anosmia is the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked.”
Anyone noticing a distinct change in their sense of taste or smell should now self-isolate for seven days to reduce the spread of infection, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam told reporters.
The symptoms will now feature with fever and cough as main indicators of the virus, with Van-Tam saying it would mean a two percent rise in picking up cases.
A major study by King’s College London last week found that people with a positive test result were three times more likely to report loss of smell and taste than those returned a negative test.
Report author Tim Spector said that Public Health England’s (PHE) previous insistence on only including fever and cough as major symptoms meant thousands of cases were missed.
The New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group concluded last month that loss of smell or taste should not be added to the symptom list, although The World Health Organisation and other countries including the United States now count it as a symptom.