Loss of taste and smell will not be added to Covid-19 symptoms watchlist

Loss of taste and smell will "absolutely not" be added to the list of symptoms people should watch for when measuring their potential for having Covid-19, the Government has confirmed.

The announcement comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed he lost his sense of taste when he was struck down by coronavirus last week.

He made his first public appearance on Thursday after self-isolating for seven days following a positive test for the virus.

22 PHOTOS
Britain before and after coronavirus lockdown
See Gallery
Britain before and after coronavirus lockdown
A composite image of the streets in the centre of Bath busy with visitors and shoppers on 11/03/20 (top) and the empty streets on Tuesday 24/03/20 the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of Bournemouth beach on 28/06/19 (top), and on Monday 23/03/20 (bottom), the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of London's National Gallery in Trafalgar Square on 28/01/14 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of London's Canary Wharf Jubilee Line platform on 31/01/13 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of London's Tower Bridge on 16/03/20 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of commuters at Waterloo station in London on 12/03/20 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of ticket holders for Comedy about a Bank Robbery in line outside the Criterion Theatre, London on 12/03/20 (top), and the theatre on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of of commuters crossing London Bridge on 13/03/20 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of London's Buckingham Palace during the Changing of the Guard on 13/03/20 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of Bournemouth beach on 14/09/19 (top), and on Monday 23/03/20 (bottom), the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of people walking across the Millennium Bridge, London, with St Paul's Cathedral in the background, on 13/03/20 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of London's Canary Wharf Station on 17/03/20 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of ticket holders for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in line outside the Palace Theatre, London on 12/03/20 (top), and the theatre on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of London's Canary Wharf Station on 17/03/20 (top), and on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of the streets in the centre of Bath busy with visitors and shoppers on 11/03/20 (top) and the empty streets on Tuesday 24/03/20 the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of visitors to Leicester Square, London, on 13/03/20 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20, (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of ticket holders for Ticket holders for Come from Away in line outside the Phoenix Theatre, London on 12/03/20 (top), and the theatre on Tuesday 24/03/20 (bottom), the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of the streets in the centre of Bath busy with visitors and shoppers on 11/03/20 (top) and the empty streets on Tuesday 24/03/20 the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of Edinburgh's Royal Mile on 14/03/20, and on Saturday (21/03/20) after bars, pubs and restaurants were instructed to close. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown on Monday night to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of people on the beach at Barry Island, South Wales, on 14/09/19 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photos of people on the beach at Barry Island, South Wales, on 19/06/17 (top), and on Wednesday 25/03/20 (bottom), after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A composite image of the streets in the centre of Bath busy with visitors and shoppers on 11/03/20 (top) and the empty streets on Tuesday 24/03/20 the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street on Friday, Mr Hancock said: "For me personally, I did lose my sense of taste but it has come back though.

"I can assure people who have lost their sense of taste that the good news is that, in my case, it wasn't permanent."

Researchers at King's College London this week published evidence, based on UK data, which indicated that almost 60% of coronavirus patients experienced a loss of taste and smell.

But Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said the advice from experts was that such developments should not be considered tell-tale symptoms to watch for.

The advice had been issued to the Government by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), Prof Van-Tam told the Number 10 press briefing.

"On the point about loss of taste and smell, we have actually asked our expert advisory committee, Nervtag, to look at this," he told reporters.

"And there is some anecdotal data in the published domain that there is a proportion of people who do indeed lose their sense of taste and smell.

"However, we have looked at the data there is, in relation to whether that on its own is a symptom that would be important to add to the case definition, and the answer to that from our experts is absolutely not."

Prof Van-Tam's comments come after scientists at King's College, who have been tracking symptoms via their specially-created app, said smell and taste were experienced by the majority of those diagnosed with Covid-19.

By March 31, the Covid Symptom Tracker App had more than 1.8 million users signed up to log their symptoms, or lack thereof, daily.

Some 59% of the 1.5 million people who had signed up by March 29 and tested positive reported a loss of smell and taste, compared with 18% of those who tested negative, analysis of the data showed.

The researchers said the reports of those symptoms were much stronger in predicting a positive Covid-19 diagnosis than self-reported fever – a symptom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who remains ill in self-isolation following his initial seven day quarantine, is currently experiencing.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS