Loss of smell ‘first sign’ of covid-19

Flinders University’s professor of ear nose and throat (ENT) surgery Simon Carney reports the first tell-tale signs of covid-19 may be an unexpected loss of smell, with evidence backed up by cases overseas. 

With the virus causing more swelling in the olfactory mucosa than other viruses, a loss of smell could be used as a key clinical indicator in otherwise symptom-free carriers of covid-19, said Prof Carney. 

“It is these ‘silent carriers’ who may remain undetected by current screening procedures, which may explain why the disease has progressed so rapidly in so many countries around the world,” he said. 

“While further research is required, loss of smell, or anosmia, has been reported in as many as one in three patients in South Korea and, in Germany, this figure was as high as one in two patients. 

As many countries struggle to contain the spread of covid-19, identification of these carriers could help to slow the spread of infection, said Prof Carney. 

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