One of the main reasons why COVID-19 is spreading so fast is because those who are sick can’t actually tell if they have contracted the illness, or if they’re just dealing with the common cold.

And since they can’t tell that they might be infectious, they end up going out, meeting people and unknowingly infecting others as well.

Even if you’re not sick, everyone is advised to stay at home as much as possible and practise social distancing.

But is there any way to tell for sure if you’ve actually gotten the coronavirus? After all, it’s always better to know in the early stages than to only find out once your condition has gotten worse.

It turns out there might be.

Coronavirus Causes Lost Of Taste & Smell

According to new data collected by British scientists, losing your sense of taste and smell is one of the best ways to tell if you have COVID-19.

They collected data through a symptom tracker app, and the results showed that almost 60% of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 had reported losing their sense of smell and taste, compared to 18% who tested negative.

These results suggest that the loss of these senses is a lot stronger in predicting a positive COVID-19 diagnosis than self-reported fever, said the researchers at King’s College London.

COVID Symptom Tracker

Out of 1.5 million users between 24 Mar and 29 Mar, 26% of them reported one or more symptoms of COVID-19 through the app.

1,702 of them also reported having been tested for COVID-19, with 579 positive results and 1,123 negative results.

Among those who had tested positive, 59% reported a loss of smell or taste.

Those Who Lost Their Sense Of Taste & Smell Should Self-Isolate

“When combined with other symptoms, people with loss of smell and taste appear to be three times more likely to have contracted COVID-19 according to our data, and should, therefore, self-isolate for seven days to reduce the spread of the disease,” said Dr Tim Spector, a professor from King’s College who led the study.

With the data collected, the research team developed a mathematical model to figure out which combination of symptoms was the most accurate in predicting an infection.

The symptoms of COVID-19 include the loss of smell and taste, fever, persistent cough, fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and the loss of appetite.

This new discovery now makes it easier for people to identify if they might be at risk of getting a coronavirus infection.

The British Association of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT UK) reported that there has been an increase in the number of patients who report losing their sense of taste and smell in the “absence of other symptoms”.

“I think these patients may be some of the hitherto hidden carriers that have facilitated the rapid spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, these patients do not meet current criteria for testing or self-isolation,” said Professor Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society, and Professor Nirmal Kumar, president of ENT UK, in a statement.

The UK is currently not offering coronavirus testing to the general public.

Image: BBC

The team from King’s College found out that more than 400,000 people reported symptoms via the app, but they had not been tested for the coronavirus yet. Almost 13% of them are likely to be infected.

This means that around 50,000 people in Britain may have as yet unconfirmed COVID-19 infections, according to Dr Spector.


If you or anyone you know anyone has reported a loss of taste and smell, combined with other symptoms, it is best to stay at home and isolate yourself.

If the symptoms don’t go away and things get worse, it’s probably time to go for a coronavirus test.

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