Loss of smell or taste have been added to the UK’s list of coronavirus symptoms that people should look out for and act upon.
Until now, only a fever and cough were triggers for people to shut themselves away in self-isolation in case they had and could spread the infection.
Ear, nose and throat doctors had been warning for weeks that more symptoms should be included.
Scientific advisers told the government to update the advice.
If you or someone you live with has any of these symptoms – a new, continuous cough, fever or loss of smell or taste (also called anosmia) – the advice is stay at home for seven days to stop the risk of giving coronavirus to others.
Cough and loss of smell or taste persist after seven days. You do not need to keep self-isolating after seven days, unless you have a high temperature or are unwell, says the advice.
Loss of smell and taste may still be signs of other respiratory infections, such as the common cold. Experts say fever and cough remain important symptoms of coronavirus to look out for.
Using an app, researchers at King’s College London have gathered symptom information from over 1.5m people in the UK who believe they might have had coronavirus.
They say there are even more symptoms – such as tiredness and stomach pain or diarrhoea – that could be included as possible coronavirus symptoms.
Some other countries and the World Health Organization are already citing them.
Lead researcher Prof Tim Spector said: “We list about 14 symptoms which we know are related to having a positive swab test.
“These are not being picked up by the NHS. This country is missing them all and not only underestimating cases but also putting people at risk and continuing the epidemic.
“There’s no point telling people to be alert if they don’t know the symptoms.”
The World Health Organization says along with the most common symptoms of fever, cough and tiredness, people may have:
- aches and pains
- sore throat
- conjunctivitis (red eye)
- loss of taste or smell
- a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes