Home / India News / Loss of smell, taste are now key symptoms to identify Covid-19 patients: Health Ministry
The Centre has added two new symptoms of the infectious Covid-19 disease, for the reference of medical professionals to help in detecting Covid-19 positive patients. Loss of smell (anosmia) and loss of taste (ageusia) have been added to the list of coronavirus symptoms by the Union Health Ministry.
The other symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, expectoration, sore throat and diarrhoea.
When the first set of criteria for Covid-19 testing was fixed in January 2020, it comprised fever, cough, and breathlessness as symptoms. Later, in May with a surge in Covid-19 positive cases, gastrointestinal health issues such as diarrhoea or vomiting were also added.
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There are currently 13 clinical symptoms and signs in the specimen referral form that was revised by the ministry last month. The symptoms are fever, cough, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, breathlessness, nausea, haemoptysis (coughing up of blood), body ache, sore throat, chest pain, nasal discharge and sputum. Any patient with one or more symptoms is allowed to get tested for Covid-19. If loss of smell and taste are added to the list, a patient would have to report one or more of 15 symptoms to get tested.
The Health Ministry in its document has indicated that direct person-to-person transmission occurs only through close contact, mainly through droplets that are released when the infected person either coughs, sneezes or talks to another person.
“These droplets may also land on surfaces, where the virus remains viable. Infection can also occur if a person touches an infected surface and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth,” the document states.
Earlier, during the onset of the disease, several cases were reported where the patients showed a loss of smell or taste.
In April, the World Health Organization (WHO), along with many European Union (EU) countries, the USA, and Australia, added the loss of smell and taste as one of the crucial Covid-19 symptoms. The United Kingdom also added these to its list of Covid-19 symptom on May 18.
Senior citizens, those who are over 60 years of age are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Among them, those with co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disease, are also at high risk, according to the Health Ministry. So clarity on symptoms of the new disease will not only help doctors in treating coronavirus patients but also expanding the eligibility criteria will help in identifying potential Covid-19 cases.