A loss or changed sense of taste or smell are to be added to the NHS coronavirus symptoms list, weeks after experts first raised concerns that Covid-19 cases are being missed.
Anyone suffering loss of taste or smell, or a noticeable change, should now self-isolate for seven days to reduce the risk of spreading the infection, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said.
If the symptomatic person lives with others, they should stay at home for seven days, while all other household members should stay home for 14 days even if they do not have symptoms.
The move means loss of smell or taste will now be listed alongside fever and cough as the main symptoms of Covid-19.
Prof Van-Tam told reporters it would mean 93% of cases where people have symptoms are now picked up, a rise from 91% previously.
It comes after a major study, published last week by Professor Tim Spector at King’s College London, found that people with a positive test result were three times more likely to report loss of smell and taste as a symptom than those who went on to test negative.
He heavily criticised the Government’s stance on Monday, saying infected people had been encouraged back to work due to a failure to track symptoms properly.