Losing these two senses is your first warning signs and if that happens, medical experts urge you to quarantine yourself.
The ongoing pandemic is urging people to practice social distancing and self-isolation, especially as news has come out that people are testing positive for the virus despite not showing any symptoms. One such example is actor Idris Elba who recently took to Twitter to share the news that the reason he got tested was because he had come in contact with someone who was infected. Though he himself had no visible symptoms, he tested positive for the virus.
However, doctors in the United States have found some additional "screening tools" that can be used for those who are asymptomatic. These tools are the loss of the sense of taste and smell, according to CNN. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery said symptoms of anosmia, or lack of sense of smell, and dysgeusia, or lack of taste, should be used to identify possible COVID-19 infections.
A statement released by them reads: "Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Anosmia, in particular, has been seen in patients ultimately testing positive for the coronavirus with no other symptoms. We propose that these symptoms be added to the list of screening tools for possible COVID-19 infection. Anosmia, hyposmia, and dysgeusia in the absence of other respiratory diseases such as allergic rhinitis, acute rhinosinusitis, or chronic rhinosinusitis should alert physicians to the possibility of COVID-19 infection and warrant serious consideration for self-isolation and testing of these individuals."
Additionally, prior to the Academy making this statement of including loss of smell and taste as part of the screening tools, ENT UK, a professional organization representing ear, nose and throat surgeons in the United Kingdom said in a separate statement on its website on that anosmia (loss of smell) could be another symptom of infection with the novel coronavirus.
"Previously described coronaviruses are thought to account for 10-15% cases. It is therefore perhaps no surprise that the novel COVID-19 virus would also cause anosmia in infected patients," the ENT UK statement said. "There is already good evidence from South Korea, China, and Italy that significant numbers of patients with proven COVID-19 infection have developed anosmia. In Germany it is reported that more than 2 in 3 confirmed cases have anosmia. In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases."
These symptoms are definitely being noticed in those who've tested positive for COVID-19. Rudy Gobert, the first NBA player to test positive for the virus, tweeted to followers about not being able to smell or taste two weeks after finding out he's infected. "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. Anyone experiencing the same thing?" he wrote.
Professor Claire Hopkins, an ear, nose, and throat specialist and president of the British Rhinological Society, informed CBS News that those who have recently lost the ability to smell should keep themselves isolated and treat it as a potential sign of coronavirus, just like a cough or fever. "Self isolation for new onset loss of sense of smell as it has the potential to reduce transmission by 'silent spreaders' — asymptomatic but otherwise well and so do not meet criteria to stay at home," she told the outlet in an email.
In addition to engaging in self-quarantine, ensure that you also follow the other safety guidelines such as hand-washing. Experts have explained the correct way to wash your hands and you can check it out here, on the CDC website.
During these difficult times, it is important to stay safe and make sure others stay protected as well by keeping away from them. Staying away from elders above the ages of 60 and covering your mouth when you cough, if you have no choice but to be around people, can go a long way in ensuring that fear and panic don't spread as quickly as the virus.