From a mother unable to smell her baby's nappy to a lawmaker who suddenly could not taste food, some coronavirus patients have described a loss of olfactory senses -- and experts say this might be a new way to detect the virus.
Ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists in Britain, the United States and France have noted a growing number of patients in recent weeks with anosmia -- the abrupt loss of smell -- and have said this could be a sign of Covid-19 in people who otherwise appear well.
Official figures suggest the coronavirus has infected some 380,000 people as the pandemic proliferates around the world, but with many cases going undetected experts have become concerned about the potential for people without symptoms to spread the virus.
The World Health Organisation lists the most common signs of Covid-19 as fever, tiredness and dry cough.
In Britain, ENT doctors have urged health authorities to advise people with a sudden loss of smell or taste to self-isolate even if they have no other symptoms.
"Anything we can do to delay transmission is absolutely vital," Claire Hopkins, the president of the British Rhinological Society, told AFP.
Hopkins, who published an open letter on the issue on Friday with ENT UK chief Nirmal Kumar, said she was not surprised when she heard initial reports from Iran and France of Covid-19 patients reporting a loss of smell.