One of the more sinister aspects of COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic spreading to every corner of the globe, is the degree in which it can be spread by asymptomatic patients. Asymptomatic coronavirus patients do not show any symptoms of the virus. Common symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, but coronavirus patients can be infected but show no signs of infection for an average of 5 days, all the while spreading the virus further.  
Now, according to The British Association of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT UK), asymptomatic patients who have not yet developed more severe COVID-19 symptoms may experience a loss of their sense of taste or smell.
“Evidence from other countries that the entry point for the coronavirus is often in the eyes, nose and throat areas,” ENT UK said in a statement.
“We have also identified a new symptom (loss of sense of smell and taste) that may mean that people without other symptoms but with just the loss of this sense may have to self-isolate – again to reduce the spread of the virus.”
New symptoms, but not confirmed
At the moment, Public Health England guidelines suggest that only a high fever and continuous cough are grounds for self-isolation to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Currently, two of ENT UK’s consultants are in intensive care being treated for COVID-19. Both are currently on ventilators. The specialists are believed to have contracted COVID-19 from people they encountered in their clinical work who didn’t show any symptoms.
“In young patients, they do not have any significant symptoms such as the cough and fever, but they may have just the loss of sense of smell and taste, which suggests that these viruses are lodging in the nose,” said Professor Nirmal Kumar, a consultant otolaryngologist, and head and neck surgeon. 
Infections can cause loss of taste, smell
According to Dr. Nathalie MacDermott, a clinical lecturer at King’s College London said that it’s not at all uncommon for infections that occur in the nose and throat to reduce or cause a full loss of taste and smell. ENT UK’s consultants are quick to note that their research is new and not yet accepted by the medical community at large.
To protect their consultants, ENT UK has requested full PPE, or personal protective equipment, to help prevent further infection to staff that examines patients’ ears, nose, and throats.
“At the present time PPE is available only in limited quantities and will be reserved for use only when patients presenting as emergencies show up,” Professor Kumar added.
Do your part to stop the spread
Doing your part to reduce potential exposure to coronavirus is a key element to preventing hospital staff from being overwhelmed and running out of necessary resources, like PPE. Even though the loss of taste and smell are not considered official symptoms of COVID-19, if you think you have been exposed to coronavirus and are experiencing a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
Most of all, stay calm. The majority of people experience mild symptoms and are able to recover at their own homes.
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