Infectious Diseases

Anosmia is Now Grounds for COVID-19 Testing in the UK

Posted on 18 May 2020

Anosmia – the loss or disruption of sense of smell and, consequently, taste – began to emerge as a potential symptom of COVID-19 in March. In April, the first hard evidence for the link between COVID and anosmia was published, with researchers reporting that ”chemosensory dysfunction was strongly associated with Covid‐19 infection and should be considered when screening symptoms”.

As of today (18th of May), the UK has added anosmia to the official list of COVID symptoms, the others being a persistent cough and high temperature. This means that anyone experiencing altered smell and/or taste should self isolate or seek testing, even if it is their only symptom.

The UK has been relatively slow to respond to the emergence of anosmia as a symptom, with multiple other countries including the U.S having already updated their official lists. According to Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London, between 50,000 and 70,000 people in the UK with Covid-19 were not being told to self-isolate because many symptoms known to be associated with COVID are being ignored. This estimate is based on data from the COVID-19 symptom tracker app.

How coronavirus symptoms compare with those of the flu, allergies, and the common cold. (2020). Retrieved 18 May 2020, from


UK coronavirus tests advised for people who lose taste or smell:

Association of chemosensory dysfunction and Covid‐19 in patients presenting with influenza‐like symptoms:

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